Shared Treasure: the journal of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society now available at Amazon

412pexHBUpLUPDATE!!!!   Printed editions of Shared Treasure are now available to buy on Amazon

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, the new Candlemas edition of  Shared Treasure: the journal of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society is now for sale via Amazon.com on Kindle for the low introductory price of $3.49.

We will soon offer a print edition of the Candlemas edition and subsequent issues of Shared Treasure via Amazon for anyone who would like a hard copy.  This move will make our journal available to as many people as possible.

In recent years, members of the Society have received an electronic version of Shared Treasure, formerly known as Anglican Embers, as well as access to our archives in return for their yearly supporter subscription.  But our supporters do far more than help us produce Shared Treasure.

Their annual fee supports the overall mission of the Society to promote Anglican tradition and common identity for the purpose of sharing the Gospel, educating men and women in the beauty of the Catholic faith and forming disciples of Jesus Christ for the glory of God.

Our supporters help us to maintain our website, to offer an ad-free blog, and to sponsor events such as our recent Anglican Tradition in the Catholic Church conference in Toronto last November.

We will soon be posting video of the liturgies and talks at the Toronto conference as well as a special conference edition of Shared Treasure.  We have other exciting projects in the works, too, so stay tuned.

Thanks again to our generous supporters.  If you would like to donate, you can through the donate button on the above right.  You can also become a supporter subscriber by signing up here.

 

 

Lenten School of Prayer —on praying without ceasing

It’s snowing in Ottawa, so there’s a chance our first Lenten School of Prayer may be cancelled tonight.  I have been very much looking forward to this gathering, but driving during rush hour this evening looks like an unwise decision.  20200227_095950_HDR

We were to be discussing the first three chapters in David Torkington’s Wisdom from the Christian Mystics: How to Pray the Christian Way. 

It’s interesting that I am re-reading this book at the same time as I am watching the Netflix series Shtisel, about an extended family of ultra-Orthodox Jews living in Jerusalem.   I highly recommend this series.

In Shtisel, I see how the everyday practices of these family members help them to constantly live inside the Story of God’s love for His people.  For example, every time one of them enters a room, they touch the mezuzah on the door post and kiss their fingers afterwards.  Every time they have even a glass of water from the tap, they say a blessing.  As I gently try to return my attention to God in the present moment, whatever I am doing,  I appreciate the opportunity to see these observances.

Torkington writes about how Jesus’ daily prayer life and that of his followers prior to the Resurrection was informed by the practices of every orthodox Jew.

He notes the importance of considering Jesus’ so-called hidden years in the light of his Jewish religious practices.

“This enables us to see and understand how what was shared  with his fellow Jewish disciples before the Resurrection was transformed after the Resurrection,” Torkington writes.  “You will not find all this detailed in Scripture, not because it was unimportant, but because it wasn’t considered necessary to detail what everyone knew, what everyone practised every day of their lives,  as Jesus had done before them.”

Torkington stresses the need to recover the “profound mystical spirituality that Jesus practised every day with his disciples. Then see how it was continued and brought to perfection after his glorification, to transform the lives of all Christians by teaching them the daily prayer that leads to the praying without ceasing.” Continue reading

Judge not lest ye be judged—a lesson for our time in light of Jean Vanier revelations

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A Happy Solemnity of the Chair of St. Peter!  This is a picture of the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. We in the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter are observing this feast transferred from today to tomorrow, Sunday.

Meanwhile, I have been ill this week and consequently I apologize for the lack of blog posts.  Instead, I have been binge-watching Shtisel, a series on Netflix about an extended family of ultra-Orthodox Jews living in Jerusalem.  I highly recommend this series for its catholic—universal—portrayal of the human plight in the midst of a particular cultural and religious context.  The portrayal of religion is marvelous.  I only wish we had more genuine depictions of Catholic religious practice in our novels, movies and other art that show human foibles as men and women grapple with passions, longings, sin, religious strictures, worship and family.

It’s also really interesting to see how Jewish law permeates the lives of the characters and informs their choices, and in some respects has a protective influence—i.e. the laws form a hedge around the person so that perhaps graver sins are prevented.   Which brings me to the revelations in the news today about the founder of L’Arche, Jean Vanier.

They are serious, according to this report by the Catholic News Agency’s Courtney Mares:

Vanier died in May 2019 at the age of 90. He was the founder of L’Arche, an international community of individuals with intellectual disabilities and their supporters, and of Faith and Light, an ecumenical Christian association of prayer and friendship for those with intellectual disabilities and their families.

Last April, L’Arche commissioned GCPS, an independent U.K. consultancy specializing in the reporting of exploitation and abuse, to investigate Vanier’s link to Father Thomas Philippe, an abusive Dominican priest sanctioned by Church authorities in 1956, whom Vanier described as his “spiritual mentor.”

During the investigation, the inquiry received “credible and consistent testimonies” from six adult women that Jean Vanier initiated sexual behaviours with them often “in the context of spiritual accompaniment” over the period of more than 30 years from 1970 to 2005, according to the L’Arche summary report of the investigation’s findings.

The alleged acts with Vanier took place in Trosly-Breuil, France, where L’Arche was founded in 1964 and where Philippe and Vanier lived almost permanently until their deaths. All the testimonies mention the same procedure: The women received an invitation to go to Vanier’s room, under the pretext of receiving spiritual direction.

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Jean Vanier, according to an internal report commissioned by L’Arche, sexually abused six women over the years, mostly in the context of spiritual direction.  He also covered up for a priest he called his spiritual father, a priest who introduced sexual practices into his spiritual direction activities based on aberrant ideas not approved by the Catholic Church.

All over Catholic Facebook and Twitter, people are sharing their devastation at the news that this man who for many had an aura of saintliness about him could have been involved in such betrayal.

Vanier has special significance to Canadians because he is the son of Georges Vanier, beloved former Governor General of Canada (the Queen’s representative) and his wife Pauline.  A cause for their sainthood has been underway for years.

I remember attending an event in Ottawa where Jean Vanier spoke back in 2006.   Vanier entered the crowded room wearing his trademark blue jacket.  He had a humble demeanor and seemed a little uncomfortable with the adoring gaze of the people in the room.  Many gently pressed in to try to be close to him.  The vibe seemed to be:  here is a living saint!  Maybe if he touches me something will rub off.   It reminded me of a milder version of what I observed back in the 1970s when Eastern religions were all the rage among hippies in North America.  Devotees of various gurus and cult leaders would hand over all all their critical faculties to someone they deemed to be on a higher spiritual plane.

It struck me as unhealthy then, and while there was nothing crazy about the behavior I observed in people trying to get near Jean Vanier, I did not share in the adulation, just as I don’t like the rock star adulation that can attach to the Pope, whoever the Pope is.   I find it embarrassing.

We are admonished in Scripture not to judge and usually we think of this in terms of negative judgments—that we should learn not to sit on the judgement seat in the place of God criticizing people, condemning them or ourselves for that manner.  This does not mean we give up discerning between right and wrong and observing the character of those around us, but that we stop occupying our petty little judgement-throne trying to usurp the place of God and instead allow the Holy Spirit to give us Light by which to see.

But giving up the judgement-throne also means giving up the positive judgement we make about people that can be just as problematic because they set us up for unrealistic expectations about fellow human beings. Adoring someone, putting them on a pedestal, also means breaking the First Commandment and putting someone in the place of God in your life.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker had one of the best pieces in reaction to the news about Vanier and his reaction to the news was similar to mine.

In a piece entitled “Jean Vanier and Total Depravity” he writes:

You know what? It doesn’t faze me. I’m not too disappointed by such news and I’m not devastated, and I think I know why. Rightly or wrongly, I was brought up in a religious setting which was built on a foundation of underlying Calvinism, and one of the tenets of Calvinism is the doctrine of “total depravity”. This is the doctrine of original sin on steroids. We were taught not only that “there is none righteous, no not one.” (Romans 3:10-12) but also “All your righteousness is as filthy rags.” (Isa. 64:6) and some of the preachers didn’t mind telling us that the translation of “filthy rags” was “menstrual rags.”

That was a shocker and emphasized the extreme vision of total depravity.

This Protestant doctrine is corrected by the Catholic truth that were are all created good because we are created in God’s image and likeness, but that we have all fallen through original sin and the wound of sin needs to be healed.

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The true Catholic position is realistic. It teaches that we are indeed created good because we are created in God’s image and likeness, but it is also true that from the very first moment we are fallen creatures. We are people of the lie and the New Testament clearly teaches that the default setting is that we are condemned. The default setting–without God’s grace is that we are alienated from God.

Read the whole thing.  It’s highly salutatory in light of the Vanier revelations and in the run-up to Ash Wednesday.  Let’s endeavor to take the realistic Catholic position and  repent, constantly repent.

There are huge temptations involved in being a spiritual leader and dealing with the adoration of followers.  These leaders do terrible harm to vulnerable people if they fall prey to those temptations and cross the line into being predators.  This is why perhaps some of the rules that limit bad behavior I am observing in Shtisel might be wise to bring back as a protection against these things, such as bringing back the grille for the confessional; ensuring all spiritual direction takes place in a room with a window or open door; and setting out some clear protocols as many Catholic dioceses are now doing.

New podcast with Lisa Nicholas

Easter mug shotLisa Nicholas, an member of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (OCSP), has embarked on a project of bringing old spiritual classics of the Anglican and English Catholic tradition back into print in beautifully-designed new editions.

She calls her publishing venture Nova & Vetera Books:  New Life For Forgotten Books.

A retired English professor, Nicholas has also has professional editing and graphic arts skills and discovered she loves designing books. That enjoyment coupled with her interest in the spiritual patrimony undergirding the Ordinariates for Catholics of Anglican tradition helped give rise to Nova & Vetera books.  She intends to direct any profits from this aspect of her venture to the OCSP.

I recorded a podcast with Lisa Nicholas recently that is now up at the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society’s website.  

In it, she talks about the many riches in the English Catholic Anglo-Catholic tradition that will whet your appetite to discover or re-discover these patrimonial treasures.

Continue reading

Baptism at Annunciation in Ottawa

DSC08680Today, we welcomed into the Family of God the youngest member of our parish, Richeldis Katherine Cecile Trolly, who was born in late January.   Fr. Doug Hayman baptized her today on Sexagesima Sunday.

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Before the big event, Richeldis was quietly looking all around to the delight of her mom, Rebecca.

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Katie Bisson and Mark Ferreira were the Godparents.

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Richeldis remained peaceful throughout.

 

 

DSC08665The Baptism began with the singing of Jesus Loves Me.

 

Afterwards, a sumptuous feast in the parish hall.

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More on the Candlemas Sarum Vespers

The New Liturgical Movement has a report up on the Candlemas Sarum Vespers in Philadelphia.  Gregory DiPippo writes:

On Saturday, February 1st, the Dominican church of St Patrick in Philadelphia hosted a celebration of Solemn First Vespers of Candlemas according to the Use of Sarum. This remarkable event was organized by Mr James Griffin, executive director of the newly founded Durandus Institute for Sacred Liturgy and Music, with the help of a great many people, as you can see in this video of the complete ceremony. We are very pleased to congratulate everyone who offered their time and effort for such a beautiful rite; the church was absolutely packed, a hopeful sign for similar initiatives in the future, both here and elsewhere.

There’s a lot more detail at the link.  Enjoy!

Lenten School of Prayer in Ottawa

IMG_20171015_105435One of the young men at my parish Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ottawa has enjoyed some of my recent posts on prayer, particularly the one on Making our parishes schools of prayer.

He suggested we do something over Lent, so starting on Feb. 27 the day after Ash Wednesday we will launch our Lenten School of Prayer. We will meet once a week after our Thursday evening 6 p.m. Mass for a light bring-your-own supper and discussion.

20200113_170350We will be reading David Torkington’s Wisdom from the Christian Mystics: How to Pray the Christian Way that I have found so encouraging in re-invigorating my personal prayer life.

My hopes for this Lenten School of Prayer is that we don’t merely talk about prayer and study it, but that our time together helps us to find graces and motivation to engage in prayer with more discipline and fervour.

Over at David Torkington’s website you can find podcasts and blog posts to give you an idea of what we’ll be reading.

In The Essence of Prayer—Gently Trying, he writes:

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. What might help you at the beginning of your spiritual journey may be of no use later on. What helps you in the morning might not help you in the evening. What helps you one minute might not help you the next. So please move from one method to another with complete freedom. Remember that these methods are only means. Beware of the ‘here today and gone tomorrow’ gurus who have a fixation about a particular means of prayer which they enjoin upon everybody without question as a panacea. They know nothing about the spiritual life. If they did they would know that methods of prayer change as people change and as prayer develops with the years. Remember the words of Dom John Chapman, ‘Pray as you can, not as you can’t’.

What I have found most helpful is the encouragement to keep gently trying, even if you are beset with distractions, or prayer seems dry or boring.  I find if I continue with gently trying, despite distractions, aridity, boredom or discomfort that God brings about some of my biggest breakthroughs.   Torkington has refreshed my desire to persist.

In Learning to Pray Takes Time and Practice, Torkington

The recognition of our own weakness is the only way we will come to feel our utter need of God’s help. Building a life of prayer means turning our lifestyle upside down if needs be, to find the necessary daily time for prayer. Prayer is not just a luxury for priests or religious, or people who happen to have spare time on their hands. It is an absolute necessity for everyone who wants to plunge themselves effectively into the mystery of Christ’s life, to be drawn into the endless ecstasy of life and love that unceasingly surges out of the Son towards the Father. We are filled to the measure of our weakness by the Father’s richness. The more we are filled with his fullness, the more we are lifted up out of ourselves in a self-forgetfulness that enables us to pray properly for the first time. The more we are tangibly immersed in the mystery of God’s love, the more we begin to see that all prayer leads to praise, to give glory to him and to lose ourselves in his inexhaustible goodness.

The trouble is we do not believe this, except as a purely academic principle of theology that we scandalously disregard in our lives. We beat our breasts with a sponge, reach for a  drink and nibbles, and slump down in front of the television. If we did believe it, then we would scream out for God’s help; we would go to him, find time to open ourselves to his healing power and urgently create space in our lives for prayer. The space and the time we find in our daily life is the practical sign of our sincere acceptance of our own weakness, and of our total belief in God’s power, which can alone help us. You might say you would like to be a concert pianist or speak fluent French or become a scratch golfer, but I will only believe you mean it when I see you practise for several hours a day. I will take you seriously when I see you hard at it, day after day on the piano, or studying French grammar, or tramping around the golf course. You would hardly meet a Christian, let alone a religious who would not say he or she desired to come closer to God, to become possessed by him and to build up a deeper prayer life. But how can this be believed until a person relentlessly practises prayer, day after day The desire is not enough, any more than are good intentions.

Learning to Pray needs Practice

Learning to pray, learning to open ourselves to God, is like anything else: it needs practice and it takes time. There is no accomplishment of any worth that I know of that you can attain merely by desiring to have it. We think nothing of spending hours a day and working for years to get a degree, pass an examination, or attain certain qualifications, and we quite rightly accept as a matter of course that the time we give and the energy we expend is necessary. Somehow we seem to think that prayer is an exception, but believe me, it is not.

Interestingly, part of what makes praying like you mean it rather than rattling off words and checking off your to-do list is that it makes you aware of your need for God, your inadequacy, your utter dependency and that feels awful, like dying, to the prideful “old man,” our fleshly identity.  Since we feel what it feels, it can be hard to sit in God’s presence and let His Light shine on that old nature so we can put on Christ, or be clothed upon with Christ.  But it’s in those moments that our new nature is being filled with grace, even though it’s only as you go about the day afterwards that you realize that things that used to annoy you no longer do, that you are more genuinely patient and kinder and more aware of the needs of others.

I believe a key to evangelization and mission for our parishes is that they become schools of prayer  so as to build a critical mass of people who go regularly into their closets to pray and emerge more docile to the Holy Spirit and where He reveals the harvest is ripe.