Be England Thy Dowry

Charles Coulombe’s latest for Crisis – on the Ordinariates: Be England Thy Dowry.

Famous amongst Catholics for the part played by converts like St. John Henry Newman in reviving the Church in England, the Oxford Movement also gave rise to Anglo-Catholicism. In time this movement would transform the externals of Anglicanism, if not its doctrines or ethos. Nevertheless, it revived among its members belief in the Real Presence, prayers for the dead, and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and founded devotional societies to these and other such causes, including the Sanctity of Charles I. Its liturgies often surpassed in ritual splendor contemporary Catholic Masses. It also revived such shrines as Walsingham and Glastonbury. Anglo-Catholic religious communities went in both for monastic life and missionary work overseas and among the urban poor.

Indeed, the propensity of Protestant-minded Anglican bishops to punish their Anglo-Catholic clergy by dumping them in undesirable areas led to the rise of the Anglo-Catholic “slum priests,” many of whom became legendary as much for their pastoral zeal as for the extraordinarily beautiful churches they built for their flocks. Whole provinces of the Anglican Communion, such as the West Indies and South Africa, were formed in the Anglo- Catholic way. For a time, it seemed as though the dream of those Oxford Movement members who did not swim the Tiber—that Anglicanism as a whole could be Catholicized—was within grasp.


So, what gifts do they bring us? To begin with, a reverent liturgy in sacral language and an extensive devotional life—things lost among many Catholics after Vatican II. They bring deeply pastoral traditions, as the far smaller Anglo-Catholic parishes were always more of a family affair than the huge parishes most Catholics in urban centers are used to. Due to historical persecution, Catholic intellectual life in the Anglosphere was primarily carried on by converts and foreign immigrants.

But Anglo-Catholicism produced not only many of those same converts but a large number of clerical theologians and lay thinkers of the caliber of T.S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, Arthur Machen, Dorothy Sayers, George Grant, and a host of others—all of whom can be re-examined for what insights they may offer. In return, the Ordinariate members are in full communion with the Pope, and thereby with such revered figures of their own past as Julian of Norwich, Alfred the Great, St. Edward the Confessor, and the English martyrs. May this reunion be both a catalyst for and a foreshadowing of the re-evangelization of the Anglosphere.

Go on over and read the whole thing!

Alpha testimony from a cradle Catholic

Recently, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa tweeted a link to this testimony by a cradle Catholic who had a life-changing faith experience after participating in Alpha.

Since I recently discussed Alpha here, here, here and here as a possible tool for ordinariate parishes to consider in evangelizing, I thought you might find this testimony interesting.

I converted to the faith in 1961 when I got married. That’s when I became a “church-goer”. When it was Sunday, I was supposed to go to Mass. It was my parish, so I was supposed to serve. I believed what I was doing was my religious duty—just fulfilling obligations. I see things very black and white, and this was no different in my religious life.

I thought of church like a job, no different than going to work. Even still, I thought I was doing things right and that I was a good Catholic. But in attending Mass on Sunday, never did I think of, “who am I going to Mass for?” In all of my service, I was never thinking of Jesus.

My experience of Catholicism was completely devoid of faith and completely separate from someone to love, or be loved by. This didn’t change until 2018 when I discovered there was more to Catholicism than being a “church-goer”.


By the end of the 10 weeks of Alpha, my view on religion had changed. I realized there was a lot to this faith that I didn’t know. I wanted to continue my journey, so I decided to take Discovery next. It was in Discovery that my idea of God transformed from an outside influence to a partner and a friend. My perspective of religion changed from rules to follow, to a person I understand and know and love. I learned that Jesus knows me and loves me personally.

A verse of Scripture that influenced this second conversion in my life was Revelations 3:20, “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come into you and eat with you, and you with me.”

I chose to open the door. I chose to place Christ at the centre of my life. I know now He was there on the other side of the door the entire time. For those 57 years, He was waiting for me to let Him in.

Our whole journey as Christians, in prayer, is to constantly and gently place Christ in the centre of our lives, through thick or thin.

On “holy noticing” and Christian contemplation

Picking up on some recent topics here on the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society blog, I came across an interesting piece at The Stream by Mark Judge on prayer that goes with some of what I have come across in reading David Torkington.

Judge writes in Jesus in the Desert: a Christian approach to trauma:

Christians can practice mindfulness, but it’s not the same mindfulness associated with Buddhist and New Age practitioners. Mindfulness is defined in the dictionary as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” It’s a practice that in recent years has become hugely popular in the West.

Noticing God’s Grandeur

Hindu or Buddhist mindfulness tends to treat the material world as an illusion one must transcend. My experience in the ocean, in contrast, focused on the beauty of God’s nocturnal world and a belief that Christ could salve my wounds. Its raised my awareness that the world, though fallen, is still a place charged with the grandeur of God.

The best term for what I experienced, and continue to practice, is what the theologian Charles Stone calls “holy noticing.” In his book of that titleStone argues that the original mindfulness is not New Age, but biblical. He defines it as “the art of holy noticing – noticing, with a holy purpose, God and His handiwork, our relationships, and our inner world of thoughts and feelings.” He then goes on:

Should Christians embrace [mindfulness] just because everyone else is doing it? No. Much about mindfulness in popular culture has nothing to do with God, Jesus, the Bible, or Christianity. And ‘Christianizing’ the latest fad dilutes the faith and can lead us astray.

David Torkington also warns against importing New Age or Eastern religious practicessuch as the use of a mantra even if the mantra is a Christian word.  This kind of meditation is not the same thing, he says, as what the anonymous writer of The Cloud of Unknowing was advocating.

Torkington writes:

What is so pernicious about these mantra movements is that the whole emphasis is on self, and seeking self-satisfaction,  in the form of inner states of peace or of esoteric forms of transcendental awareness. If you are continually encouraged to act selfishly time and time again seeking psychological palliatives you become more and more selfish. Selfish acts lead to selfish habits and selfish habits eventually lead to an inner disposition, not of love but of selfishness which in the end makes a person porous to evil. In the same way selfless acts that pertain to the very essence of authentic Christian prayer make a person porous to love, the love of God.  In authentic Catholic teaching the profound experience of God’s love does eventually begin to abide with and in genuine mystics, but only permanently after the purification that the mantra-men know nothing about.

The key is whether one is willing to repent, and whether the “holy noticing” one practices allows the Holy Spirit to purify us by convicting us of sin, and bringing about repentance.  This does not mean an unhealthy introspection and navel-gazing where we take it upon ourselves to go on a search and destroy mission regarding our sins and weaknesses.   That can be a form of pride, of scrupulosity and of taking it upon oneself to be the judge, rather than acknowledging God as the Judge.  Instead, gently bring your attention back into the present moment as you discover during your prayer you have become lost in a thought-stream,  daydreaming or distracted.

In this blog post The Essence of Prayer–Gently Trying,  Torkington writes:

I don’t want to start hair-splitting, but I think it is very important to distinguish between what is the essence of prayer and what are the means to prayer. People are always asking me to advise them what method of prayer to adopt, or more usually to bless the prayer pattern that they have already adopted. Some people fritter away their lives searching for the spiritual equivalent of the Philosopher’s Stone, the magic formula for prayer which will infallibly lead to mystical contemplation, or to whatever other spiritual ‘goodies’ they have set their hearts on. The truth of the matter is there is no perfect means of prayer. There are just different means, to help us keep gently trying, to turn and open our heart to the only One who can make us new. Methods and techniques of prayer are like props. Their purpose is to help a person to keep on loving, to keep turning back to God. If the rosary helps to do this, if the stations of the Cross, or some other devotional practice helps to do this, then that is fine. Others may find the slow meditative reading of the Scriptures helpful responding to them in their own heart-felt prayer, or by using ancient prayers like the ‘Jesus prayer.’ Or by saying prayers from the liturgy like the Gloria from the Mass or even the great Eucharistic prayers themselves saying them very slowly and prayerfully.

No Magic Formula

The important point to remember is there is no magic formula, no infallible method or technique. There are just hundreds of different ways of prayer to do one and the same thing. A means of prayer is good for you if it helps you, here and now, to keep gently turning your heart back to God.

“Keep gently turning your heart back to God.”  Easier said than done!  The first thing though is to show up and do it.  If you experience distraction after distraction and find while praying the Rosary you are somehow doing up your shopping list as you say Hail Marys, gently bring yourself back to God.  If you are doing the offices, and finding yourself not able to remember what you just read because you are thinking about that difficult person you have in your life as you are glossing over the text, gently bring yourself back to God.  Don’t force.  You don’t need to whip yourself if you have not prayed everything perfectly.

Show up and gently turn your heart to God, as Father Bob Bedard, the founder of the Companions of the Cross used to say, “Give God permission.”




Sarum Vespers for Candlemas

Sarum Vespers

This event involves Roman Catholics from a range of choirs and organizations in the Philadelphia archdiocese, including ordinariate members.

“The liturgy will take place at St Patrick’s Church, served by the Dominican Friars, in center city Philadelphia (242 S 20th St) on the Eve of Candlemas: Saturday, February 1 at 7 pm. Event co-sponsored by the Collegium Institute for Catholic Thought & Culture. Please direct all inquiries to James T.M. Griffin at




Andrew Petiprin joins Bishop Barron’s Word on Fire Institute

We have posted several times, here, here, and here on Andrew Petiprin, a former Episcopalian canon who crossed the Tiber with his family a year ago.

Now he has joined Bishop Robert Barron’s Word on Fire Institute as the Fellow of Popular Culture.   His colleagues at Word on Fire interview him in this video.

Congratulations, Andrew Petiprin!  It’s good to hear the kind of appreciation he has for his evangelical childhood and his Anglican formation.  The interviewers note that it’s not always that way, especially for Catholics who leave the Church for another denomination.  Petiprin stresses that he was attracted to the Catholic Church as opposed to running away from something. Anyway, he has an interesting background and comes well-equipped for serving in Bishop Barron’s apostolate.

Peter Jesserer Smith did an interview with Petiprin last April for the National Catholic Register on “Becoming Catholic in a Time of Scandal.”

You mentioned that Anglicans can bring certain gifts into the Catholic Church that can really enrich Catholic life and faith. Could you expound on that a little bit?

Those looking at this situation need to remember that the Catholic Church in a sense decides what the gifts are that Anglicans bring into the Church. So that’s an important thing to note. But the thing that delights me is thinking about the liturgical and musical tradition. Anglicans have a wonderful tradition, too, of using Scripture in a way that I think can really speak deeply to the Catholic Church: the tradition of praying the daily offices [Morning and Evening Prayer, also called Mattins and Evensong] and praying the Psalms are not just things that are done in monasteries (although it’s wonderful that they are done in monasteries), but those things are done in a parish church or indeed even in a home, in a family context. Those are really wonderful things.

Anglicans are also used to (with the exception of just a few kind of very large parishes) a smaller church context with more of an intimate social life and that sort of thing. I think that could be something that could speak deeply to people’s needs in the wider Catholic Church, as well: that going to church isn’t just about fulfilling your Sunday obligation and then going home, but it could actually be a smaller-scale thing where you’re actually sharing your lives more deeply [with fellow parishioners] and celebrating the Lord’s Day in a more holistic way.