News from Houston

We have news from the chancery up at the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter website:

Ordinariate clergy, staff and campus safe and dry

Welcoming a new member! O Happy Day!

UPDATED:   Adds link to Fr. Doug Hayman’s sermon.

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This morning, our Parish, Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, welcomed a new member into the Catholic Church.  Heather, flanked by her sons and sponsors Bennett and Zach, is an old friend I met years ago when we both attended Kanata Baptist.  In the above photo she makes her profession of faith.

Zach and Bennett came to us via Augustine College, where Fr. Doug Hayman is chaplain and teaches Scripture.   Heather had home-educated both young men and well-prepared them to enter the college, which is a one year program on the foundations of Western Civilization in an ecumenical Christian faith community.

I can’t recommend Augustine College highly enough.  But I digress from the joyous occasion this morning.   When Heather and Fr. Doug chose this date, neither had any idea of what the readings would be.  So, what a beautiful surprise from the Holy Spirit that they included Isaiah 22:19-23 and Matthew 16:13-20 —Old and New Testament verses that explain the role of Peter as the Rock upon which Christ founds his Church; and the keeper of the keys.

Heather also received the Seal of the Holy Ghost in Confirmation.

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As usual, Fr. Doug’s sermon—they tend to be a little longer and more in depth than one would expect in a homily—tied everything together beautifully.    As I often say, why people are not lining up around the corner to get in to hear him, I don’t know.  He’s amazing.

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We usually have a great breakfast after Mass, but today was special.   Heather had two cakes to cut.

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A moment for grace, with her husband Paul and her youngest son, Joe and grandson Thomas.    And here’s the whole family.

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Joe, Alice, her husband Bennett, Heather, Paul, Thomas and Zach.   Alice is also a graduate of Augustine College, as is Haley, another one of our parishioners.  Her dad Jonathan is Augustine’s webmaster, and ours as well.

What a happy, happy day to welcome a new member into the Catholic Church and into our little, joyful band.

 

Shane Schaetzel on evangelicals and fundamentalists

Earlier this summer, I posted on the La Civilta Cattolica article that caused so much concern and interesting push-back from people who explained its negative stereotypes of evangelicals and Catholics in the United States was based on an embarrassing lack of knowledge or understanding.

Well, Shane Schaetzel finally responded to the article with a long piece at his blog that explains quite well the differences between evangelicals and fundamentalists in America, something the authors of La Civilta Cattolica do not grasp.

Shane writes:

You see, back when I was an Evangelical, over 20 years ago, there really was an overlap between Evangelical and Fundamental Protestants. In fact, the overlap was so profound that it was quite common to see Evangelicals and Fundamentalists sitting in the same pews in the same churches. However, all of that began to change about 20 to 25 years ago, and I witnessed the trend toward the end of my Evangelical days. It was at that time, during the 1990s, that many of the larger Evangelical churches (Baptist, Pentecostal, Assemblies of God, etc.) made a conscious choice to focus more on the basics of the gospel message (evangelium) and concentrate their preaching toward bringing more people in. This meant they had to focus on the basics of the gospel more, and allow for more charity on disagreement over what was considered “peripheral doctrines.” Thus they started to take a more charitable view of other Christians they were previously suspicious of, and this would include Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and Lutherans. In other words, they started to acknowledge that it is possible for people in these churches to be Christians and to be saved. Adopting this disposition gave them a more “open-minded” impression to the public, while at the same time hanging on to traditional Christian morality and virtue on social issues like abortion, homosexuality and same-sex “marriage,” etc. This change brought about the desired effect. Their churches exploded in size, moving from large-churches into mega-churches, and now into multi-franchised-mega-churches.

As a result, many Catholics and Evangelicals have begun working together in recent decades, particularly in America’s Bible Belt where Evangelicals are most numerous. The early signs of it came down way back in 1994 with a joint document, signed by both Evangelical and Catholic leaders, entitled Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium. It’s a document every Catholic and Evangelical should read. This is about as formal as anything gets in the Evangelical world, and it’s really quite a milestone in Evangelical-Catholic relations. It is historic, and yes, people will still be talking about it 100 years from now.

Ever since this document was signed, and ever since the divergence between Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism began around the same time, Catholics in the Bible Belt of America have begun working in ever closer relationship with Evangelicals. In places like the Bible Belt, where Catholic resources are scarce, Catholics have been forced to rely on Evangelical ministries simply out of necessity from time to time. The same could be said of Evangelicals in largely Catholic locations, not only in North America, but in Catholic countries as well. This is not a matter of speculation or wishful thinking. It is, rather, a reflection of reality. It has been the situation on the ground in the Bible Belt for decades now. Thus, in various places throughout the Bible Belt, Catholics and Evangelicals have developed very close and personal relationships.

Conversely, many smaller evangelical/fundamentalist churches went the opposite direction in the middle to late 1990s. The smaller ones decided to focus more on the “fundamentals” of their Protestant faith, but expanded those fundamentals to more than just the basic gospel message (evangelium). Some of them remained small in size. While a few of them grew, those that grew large came under increased public scrutiny. Thus many Fundamentalist churches made a conscious effort to remain relatively small, focusing on developing more “doctrinally pure” congregations rather than large ones. As a result, Protestant Fundamentalism still exists, but it is largely separate now from the mainstream of Evangelicalism. It has, in many ways, become it’s own smaller movement, and remains staunchly anti-Catholic.

So now here we are, in 2017, and we have reached a point of clear separation between Evangelical and Fundamentalist Protestants. Granted, there may still be a small trace of Fundamentalists in Evangelical churches, and vice versa, but for the most part, these two movements have gone their separate ways. For Catholics, the easiest way to tell them apart is to gauge their attitude toward Christians in other churches, particularly those in the Catholic Church. Most of your Evangelical Protestants (Evangelicals) today, especially those in America, will say that Catholics are Christians and they can be saved too. Meanwhile, Fundamental Protestants (Fundamentalists) will tell you that Catholics are not Christians and cannot be saved unless they leave the Catholic Church. So I think it’s important that we Catholics begin adjusting our vocabulary to reflect this. We should no longer speak of Evangelicals as Fundamentalists, nor should we speak of Fundamentalists as Evangelicals. We should rather speak of them as separate entities. They are no longer the same thing. They are now different, and we should make note of this in the way we speak of them. None of this should surprise us really. Protestantism is always changing, dividing, and remaking itself. This latest development is just another example of that.

Go on over and read the rest, because he gives great advice on how to prepare Catholic children to deal with the questions their evangelical friends will ask them, and suggests some questions they can ask their evangelical friends that could lead them to the Catholic Church.

Fr Hunwicke on the Convert problem

Fr. Hunwicke weighs in on Austen Ivereigh’s Pope Francis and the Convert Problem piece and Crux’s follow up by David Mills here.

In it, Fr. Hunwicke has something interesting to say about what Anglican patrimony provided in a proper understanding of Mary and of the Church.

Fr. Hunwicke writes:

David Mills humbly confesses that we converts will indeed always be creatures inferior to genuine, encradled, Catholics. And Mr Mills appears to demonstrate something even worse: that since he entered the Catholic Church, his understanding of Catholic doctrine has deteriorated. Two examples: (1) he appears to think of our blessed Lady as a sort of vessel which contained the Incarnate Word. Rather off-centre: the Lord took his human substance of the Virgin Mary His Mother (as the Christmas Preface in the Anglican Use makes clear); he did not merely pass through her as water does through a pipe, or as the Lord’s Blood is contained in a chalice. And (2): he calls the Church “a living body moving through History” … which is jejune. The Church is the Body and Bride of Christ. The Church Triumphant (our Lady and all the glorified Saints) and the Church Expectant (the souls whom we remember before the Father) are not within History in any natural sense of that phrase. Only the Church Militant could be described in the way David Mills does.

The habit of regarding “the Church” as synonymous with the Church Militant here in Earth is a common mistake among Roman Catholic theologians as well as ‘ordinary’ Catholics. Those of us from the Anglican Patrimony have had the opportunity of being taught (for example, by the great Eric Mascall) that the Church is something immeasurably greater than merely the Church Militant. In the words of another mighty Anglican writer, C S Lewis, she is “spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners”.

I suspect that this much healthier and more balanced understanding of “Church” may owe something to the influence which some Orthodox writers had on Anglican Catholics such as Mascall in the twentieth century. However that may be, we see the wisdom of Pope Benedict XVI in calling us corporately into the Catholic Unity and urging us to hold fast to the riches which are legitimately ours.

 

Omitting Psalms and Bible passages from the lectionary

There’s a discussion I came across on Facebook on the Liturgy of the Hours and how Psalms 58 and 137 had been removed from some recent lectionary.

To tell you the truth, I did not even notice until this year that Psalm 58 was missing from the 1962 Canadian Book of Common Prayer.   When I first noticed the numbering skipped from 57 to 59, I thought, well, maybe it has something to do with how Psalms are numbered.   This is why I am a terrible proofreader, in case you haven’t noticed.

Oh, and I just looked up Psalm 137 and see the Canadian Prayer Book only includes vs. 1-6.

I personally do not like having an Bowdlerized Psalter.  I really, really do not like it.  I even less like a Bowdlerized Bible.  I do not like removing passages merely because people find them offensive, or because the people of today think they are so superior in having the benefit of today’s insight to judge the past. I am sure there were many powers that be throughout Jewish history that wanted parts of the Jewish Scripture left out and thankfully there was a stronger desire to preserve sacred writings intact.

Yes, these Psalms, which I paste below, seem bloodthirsty, even genocidal, as do many passages in Scripture.  Rather than cut holes in Scripture—imagine what we would have left if every generation decided to cut out the bits they found offensive—be a pretty small, book—how about we make more effort to see how the Early Church Fathers interpreted these difficult passages, how they describe our inward spiritual battles.

So, what do you think of Bowdlerized Psalters, or of the habit of lectionaries to skip the problematic parts of the Bible.  I always find I tend to read them anyway, wondering, why is the story of Tamar omitted, and so on.   Your thoughts?  Continue reading

Deal Hudson and Father Z respond to David Mills

Deal Hudson responds to David Mill’s “converts should stop talking so much” piece at Crux in a response also at Crux.  Hudson writes:

There are quite a few cradles I have learned from experience just to ignore. Catholic wisdom is hardly recognized by the date on your baptismal certificate.

Mills even suggests that a convert’s knowledge of Scripture and theology is “naively” overrated, but adds, “that’s another article.” I look forward to seeing it, but just who does he have in mind?

The late Father Louis Bouyer, himself a convert from Lutheranism, told me his seminal book, The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism, was started when he was a Lutheran but was a Catholic by the time he finished it. Is Bouyer one of those converts whose theological knowledge is overrated?

Finally, we come to Mills in the garden. In an attempt to make his argument concrete, he posits a garden with flowers – a convert does not stand amidst the garden, he says, but sees it “through a bay window.”

“He has to spend many years outside to know what life in the garden is really like,” Mills writes.

Am I mistaken in believing that I was received into the Church on the day I was confirmed at the Hawthorne Sisters’ Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta, Georgia in February, 1984? That puts me inside the garden, does it not? If not, at what point is a convert admitted?

And Father Z had this response on  his site:

It astonishes me that people keep going to back to this third rail and jumping up and down on it.

I think all these people grumbling about converts are concerned because of the more conservative positions held by many visible converts who are well-known for speaking and writing on Catholic issues.

Let’s turn the sock inside out.  How about this:

  • Cradle Catholics should learn something about their Faith.
  • Cradle Catholics should go to Confession before Communion.
  • Cradle Catholics should stop shacking up and get married.
  • Cradle Catholics should stop contracepting at same rate as non-Catholics.
  • Cradle Catholics should speak less, listen more.

I don’t have stats at my finger tips, but I’ll wager that the converts the libs want to silence are more faithful in these matters than most cradle Catholics.

Back in the days after Anglicanorum Coetibus, when there was a lot of uncertainty about what would happen, what the Ordinariates would look like, how we in the Traditional Anglican Communion would fare, and so on, I remember my inner sense of offense when I was told we would have to go through RCIA.  And later, we heard, our clergy could not conduct it because “they weren’t Catholic.”

“RCIA!!!???   RCIA?????!!!!   Are you kidding me?” I thought to myself, when I heard a bishop musing about this.  “I know someone who teaches RCIA in your diocese and she isn’t even a Christian, never mind a Catholic.”

We chose to do the Evangelium Course, that Our Lady of Walsingham used.  And our then Bishop Carl Reid taught it, though we had our priest mentor in the audience available to correct our non-Catholic bishop should he fall into error.   Interestingly, at one point during the catechesis,  Fr. Carl, now Dean of the Deanery of St. John the Baptist of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, said of something in the Evangelium Course:  “That’s wrong.”  Then he explained why it was wrong.   And, lo and behold, our mentor priest, a canon lawyer, agreed with him!  Sorry, I can’t remember the particular doctrinal point.

Yeah, maybe like David Mills, we already thought we were already catholic, and more  catholic than many cradle Catholics, but certainly not more catholic than dear Papa Benedict XVI!  So the response of the hierarchy seemed to be, “Oh, you think you’re catholic?  Well, let’s move the bar up higher.  How about this?”

But no, interestingly enough, we did not have our faces rubbed in Apostolica Curiae, except by some traditionalists on blogs.  Our clergy did have to go through long periods of becoming lay men and wearing civilian clothes –a painful time of stripping of identity and uncertainty whether they would ever be ordained as Catholic priests.

So, when our people signed on the dotted line that we believed everything the Catholic Church teaches as revealed to be true, we had it drummed into us every difficult teaching that most cradle Catholics these days reject, such as the evils of artificial contraception.

The Evangelium Course proved to be a good refresher for our people, kind of like the way an Alpha Course can be a good refresher on the basics.

When I shared this story with a cradle Catholic friend, she told me we were lucky to have this rigorous training before entering the Catholic Church.   She laments that so many cradle Catholics do not know their faith and that little seems to be done to make sure they are taught.

 

 

David Mills, speaking for himself

David Mills, a former Anglo-Catholic, who crossed the Tiber 17 years ago has a piece up at Crux entitled Newcomers to the Church Should Listen More and Speak Less that continues what many perceive as the “convert bashing” that began with this piece by Austen Ivereigh, for which he has apologized.

The short versions of the two posts is: “converts” ought to shut up.   Why? because somehow cradle Catholics have a secret decoder ring to The Catholic Thing that newcomers lack and therefore any criticisms of the current state of play in the Church come from their “baggage” carried from their previous church.  I dunno.  When surveys show most cradle Catholics don’t even believe in Real Presence, disregard teachings on contraception, and hold many other beliefs contrary to official Church teaching, I wonder what cradle Catholics he’s referring to that seem to have grasped the full Truth of being a Catholic.

Well, David Mills speaks for himself, and it may have taken him a while to grasp from the inside such things as Mary as Mother, but does he presume all the critics described by Ivereigh  haven’t deepened their conversion as much as he has or even deeper than he has? Ivereigh wrote in Pope Francis and the Convert Problem:

Now it is quite possible that elegant commentators such as Ross Douthat and  Matthew’s boss Rusty Reno (both former Episcopalians), or, at the rougher end, writers such as Carl Orlson (ex-Protestant fundamentalist) and John Henry Westen (ex-atheist), or indeed ex-Anglicans in my own patch such as Daniel Hitchens of the Catholic Herald and Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register in Rome, are all correct in their readings.

But it is a lot more likely that their baggage has distorted their hermeneutic, and they are suffering from convert neurosis.

 

Do none of those listed “get it” the way he does?  Are Massimo Faggioli and Austen Ivereigh as examples of cradle Catholics who do.  What about Robert Royal?  Cardinal Burke, to name a prominent American cradle Catholic?

But of the real Catholic mind or imagination – the Catholic paradigm, the way Catholics see the world – he knows little. The new Catholic must work for many years to get that, and never will get it fully.

Most converts, as I wrote in The New Oxford Review, will never think and feel exactly as do cradle Catholics. They do by instinct what we will always do by analysis followed by choice.

For a long time, and perhaps a very long time, the convert will see the Catholic Thing as you see a garden through a bay window, not as you see it when you’re standing amidst the flowers. He sees its design and beauty, but doesn’t feel the sun or smell the flowers or enjoy walking barefoot on the grass. Nor does he know what it is like to get caught in the rain or stung by a bee, or to spend hours weeding. He has to spend many years outside to know what life in the garden is really like.

Then, this.

 

The second example relates more closely to Faggioli’s and Ivereigh’s concerns. Converts tend not to have a sense of the Church as a living body moving through history. Our instinctive ecclesiology is more static, more a matter of settled rules to be obeyed than a life to be lived.

Converts may believe in the development of doctrine, and in fact include it as one of their reasons for converting. I did, but for a long time I didn’t see how it works.

Converts don’t trust it, because the process includes a lot of confusion and error. It requires something more like mobs arguing in bars and battling in the street than the genteel discussion around the table in an oak-paneled room they imagine.

It includes a pope who might speak ambiguously and challenge the Church to explain and defend practices thought settled in their present form, while being the Holy Father to whom submission is due.

We will tend to react to any questioning of the boundaries and feel the hard cases dangerously risky. We hold more doctrines to be settled than are actually settled, and dislike open questions.

There is a great division among Catholic theologians about how this living Body moves through history—whether the truths of Revelation transcend history and are true for all times and all cultures (though of course may need to be explained in new or fresh ways) or whether history and some kind of Hegelian dialectic makes Revelation a process and where history or experience are right up there with Scripture and Tradition.  And, in fact, trump Scripture and Tradition.

Tracey Rowland’s book Catholic Theology was helpful for me to understand these various trends.

 

 

 

News on upcoming meeting in Australia

The Catholic Leader in Australia has an advance story on the upcoming patronal festival of Our Lady of the Southern Cross at the end of this month:

Monsignor Keith Newton, of the Ordinariate in the United Kingdom, Bishop Steven Lopes, of the Ordinariate in the United States, and Australia’s own Ordinary Monsignor Harry Entwistle will meet in Brisbane at the end of August for their first gathering in Australia.

-snip-

East Brisbane ordinariate priest Fr Tony Iball said the meeting of the three ordinaries in Brisbane was significant for the Australian ordinariate’s fifth anniversary celebrations.

“Celebrating our fifth anniversary with the three ordinaries being present and coinciding with our annual clergy residential meeting helps us to focus on the importance of Pope Benedict XVI’s invitation in Anglicanorum Coetibus for Anglicans to come into full communion with the Catholic Church and the Holy Father,” Fr Iball said.

Fr Iball said the meeting would also be a sign of hope to groups and individuals who seek to unite with the Catholic Church.

“Our gathering and celebrations will also focus on the hope that the establishment of the ordinariates in America, the UK and Australia should not be seen as one-off experiences but should give encouragement by example to other groups seeking unity with the Universal Church and those interested in ecumenism generally to continue seeking unity among Christians after many centuries of division,” he said.

The meeting of the three ordinaries will coincide with a public lecture on the future of ecumenism by Queensland-born theologian and former Anglican, Professor Tracey Rowland on August 30 and a Mass on the Solemnity of Our Lady of the Southern Cross on August 31.

If I were retired and had a big pot of money set aside for travel, or a wealthy benefactor, I would definitely go to this.

I will watch from afar and try to have as much information as I can on the event.

I highly recommend Tracey Rowland’s Catholic Theology (Doing Theology).