English Catholic Patrimony at the USCCB retreat

I now have some time to look at Fr. Cantalamessa’s talks at the USCCB retreat, and came across this in the first talk:

The Cloud of Unknowing, at the beginning of his treatise on contemplation, gives to his readers an advice which is fundamental also for making a good retreat. In order to pierce the cloud of unknowing which exists above us, between us and God, we need to put first “a cloud of forgetting beneath us”, living aside for a time every problem, project or anxiety we may have at the moment. (Footnote to Chapter 5 of the Cloud of Unknowing)

I remember coming across The Cloud of Unknowing while in college, perhaps as a result of a course in religion.  I loved it and its exhortations continue to speak to me.

Here’s a link to the whole work translated by Evelyn Underhill,  an Anglo-Catholic who was an expert in Christian mysticism.  Perhaps we can claim her and the Cloud of Unknowing as part of our patrimony in the Ordinariates for Catholics of Anglican Tradition.

Here’s an interesting article from the Evelyn Undermill Association on whether it’s possible to be a do-it-yourself Christian mystic:

Carl McOlman writes:

Nearly all Christian mystics maintain that an essential characteristic of Christian mysticism is participation in the Body of Christ, which is to say, in the Christian community of faith. In other words, to be a Christian mystic, it is as important to be a follower of Christ as it is to be a mystic. And to be a follower of Christ means to express spirituality in a communal way. The above statements annoy a lot of people. Sorry about that, but that’s how it rolls.

Community. If it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for us. Recently a reader of this blog forwarded me an email from a friend of his who criticizes some of Evelyn Underhill’s ideas in her book Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness. These two people, whom I’ll call “the reader” and “the friend,” were looking at a passage in Mysticism where Underhill describes two core mystical principles. I’ll post the complete email at the end of this post, but for now, here’s just the highlights.

Here are Underhill’s two principles, from Mysticism:

  1. While mysticism is an essential element in full human religion, it can never be the whole content of such religion. It requires to be embodied in some degree in history, dogma and institutions if it is to reach the sense-conditioned human mind.
  2. The antithesis between the religions of “authority” and of “spirit,” the “Church” and the “mystic,” is false. Each requires the other. (pages ix-x)

Underhill goes on to say:

The “exclusive” mystic, who condemns all outward forms and rejects the support of the religious complex, is an abnormality. He inevitably tends towards pantheism, and seldom exhibits in its richness the Unitive Life. It is the “inclusive” mystic, whose freedom and originality are fed but not hampered by the spiritual tradition within which he appears, who accepts the incarnational status of the human spirit, and can “find the inward in the outward as well as the inward in the inward,” who shows us in their fullness and beauty the life-giving possibilities of the soul transfigured in God.

What Evelyn Underhill is doing here is very simple: she is drawing a distinction between mysticism in a generic sense, and mysticism as specifically manifested within Christianity.

I was a do-it-myself Christian mystic in a sense during about a decade where I had a regular contemplative prayer discipline but no orthodox  Christian community where I was prepared to sign on the dotted line that I believed any particular creed.

One one hand, I benefited greatly from the practise of entering that Cloud of Unknowing, and I believe God honors any honest searching for Him, regardless of the context, whether it’s in a big charismatic revival or through sitting still in a room, gently trying to stay aware of the present moment, the way I was doing.  But the best and fastest spiritual growth came when I was anchored in a Christian community and learned how important it is to believe in order to understand rather than understand as a pre condition for believing.

Anyone else familiar with this book?  With a similar contemplative practice?

Making your support real and not theoretical

Last Sunday, we had a visit from two young men who had attended publicly-funded Catholic schools.  The one I spoke to at length said the effect of that education left him an atheist.  But his interest in an ancient sport prompted him to do some reading and he discovered how many knights of old were deeply Christian.  His reading and searching led him to discover the Traditional Latin Mass, and he is now a member of our local Priestly Society of St. Peter (FSSP) parish in Ottawa and very happy there.

He and his friend, however, had decided to visit other churches in the area and since someone had left a little leaflet in their apartment building about our Christmas season liturgies, they visited us and stayed for our Epiphany Dinner that followed our Mass and the Baptism of our youngest member, little Phoebe.

They were pleasantly surprised by our Mass and what a delight it was for us to meet these delightful young men who are eagerly growing in the Catholic faith, and who rediscovered it through traditional liturgy.

We also have some regular visitors who participate in our parish life but are active members of other parishes in Ottawa.  We welcome them. They are our friends, part of our community and they support us.

In recent days, however, I have had some conversations with some people involved in Ordinariate life about those who tacitly support the Ordinariates, or the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society but tacit support is as far as it goes.

Continue reading

On how Christians are depicted . . . in art, on Netflix and in the media

IMG_20171217_114420If a visitor came to one of our Ordinariate communities, what would they see?  Would they see warm, welcoming, joyful people?  Or would they see contentious, negative and cliquish people?  Would they see worship that makes them sense the Presence of a supernatural, Loving God?  Or would they see a bunch of people reciting prayers by rote with hearts far from entering into the meaning of the words and gestures?   Would they find people acquainted with the mercy of God?  Or would they find self-righteous judges who believe others should pull themselves up by their own bootstraps the way they  did?   Would they see people who believe in miracles but also how even more important is desiring God’s will above their own?  Or would they see people whose faith crashes and burns when confronted by serious challenges?

I’m thinking about this because of what I’ve seen over the holidays in how Christians are depicted. Continue reading

The A.C. Society’s role in ‘Healing the rift’

On social media this morning,  I discovered news of an Episcopal minister, Canon Andrew Petiprin, who is entering the Catholic Church in Nashville, Tennessee in the New Year.   This is a reason for great rejoicing and I trust he and  and his family will receive the same warm welcome we did when we became Catholic nearly eight years ago.

I see among his Facebook friends a number of Ordinariate members, but you’ll see in Petiprin’s testimony, there is no mention of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Continue reading

In praise of the King James Version

This is my personal opinion and not that of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society, but I’ve made no secret of my desire to see the Catholic Church approve the King James Version of the Bible as part of our Anglican patrimony and a treasure to be shared.  Of course, it would need the extra books and some footnotes to correct any errors.

In a recent conversation on Facebook, none other than Tony Esolen, an author, translator of Dante, and professor of English Renaissance and classical literature at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in New Hampshire weighed in. Continue reading

Reviving “the Method” for the Ordinariates

Every Advent, at the start of a new liturgical year, I make a “New Year’s” resolution to more religiously pray the daily offices.   I am grateful for John Covert’s site that updates the psalms, canticles and readings for morning and evening prayer so one really has no excuse not to pray them if one has a smart phone.  Otherwise, it does require a stack of books, though I agree with Cardinal Robert Sarah that using the holy books adds to the sacred nature of the experience.   But let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  It’s better to pray the Office on a phone or a tablet than to not pray it at all.

So, with more diligent attention to the daily offices, I was very interested in this August 2016 article that Christopher Mahon discovered and reposted in an Anglican  Ordinariate Facebook group from  The New Liturgical Movement  on the role praying the daily offices played in John Wesley’s “Method.”

David Clayton writes in The Power of the Divine Office to Transform a Church and Society:

The ‘Method’ of the Methodists!

I was idly investigating forms of the breviary on the internet the other day (as one does), and came across a page about the history of the Anglican breviary, here.

Contained within it was the following:

 Regular praying of the Divine Office was likewise central to John and Charles Wesley’s “method,” which included scriptural study, fasting, and regular reception of Holy Communion in addition to daily celebration of Morning and Evening Prayer. John Wesley’s Rule of Life is, in its essentials, thoroughly orthodox and Catholic. It has been said that if Wesley had only been born in 1803 rather than 1703, he would have been a follower of those great Oxford divines — John Henry Newman, Edward Bouverie Pusey, and Hurrell Froude — who by their preaching and Tracts turned the Church of England to its apostolic and sacramental roots.

Indeed, it was those 19th century “Tractarians” who kindled new interest in the pre-Reformation forms of celebrating the Holy Eucharist and daily prayer. In the mid and late nineteenth century, the Anglican Church in England and America witnessed nothing less than a Catholic Revival, including the rebirth of organized religious orders, renewed emphasis upon and appreciation for the Episcopate and Priesthood, the Sacraments, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the sacrificial nature of the Holy Communion, devotion to the Blessed Virgin and the Saints, and the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ.

How about we revive this method within the Ordinariates:

” . . .scriptural study, fasting, and regular reception of Holy Communion in addition to daily celebration of Morning and Evening Prayer.”

Add to that, Marian consecration and the daily praying of the Rosary. 

Clayton writes that as a former Methodist now Catholic, he was astonished to read this about the Anglican breviary.  He also pointed out everyone used to talk about the method without laying out what it was.  He adds:

This reinforces my belief that that if we want to transform the culture and revive the Church, we can do this through the Domestic Church and the family centered on liturgical piety, including the chanting of the Liturgy of the Hours at home. Furthermore, this means that we need to encourage this in the vernacular, so that people who are not fluent in Latin (i.e. most people) can genuinely pray it. I suggest that the Anglican Use Divine Office is a way to do this, as I described in a review of the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham. And it is the prayer of the family in the domestic church, centered on a liturgical piety, that can drive such societal change today as well as transform the Church. We need to form people as contemplatives as a matter of course, not as the exception.

Your thoughts?





Professor Feulner receives second Knighthood for work with Catholic Church

IMG-20181210-WA0003Dr. Hans-Jürgen Feulner of the University of Vienna, Austria, a liturgical expert who played a key role in the liturgical commission that developed Divine Worship: The Missal has been awarded a second Knighthood for his contribution to the Catholic Church and to society.   Here Professor Feulner is shown being greeted by Archduke Simeon of Hapsburg-Lorraine who installed him as a Knight in the Constantinian Order of St. Georg at a ceremony in Innsbruck, Austria on Dec. 10.


Professor Feulner is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society.

Here is the professor with the Archduke’s wife Princess Maria of Bourbon-Two Sicilies


In a message to the Society president from Austria, Professor Feulner said:  “The Archduke told me at lunch he was impressed by my work for former Anglicans and would like to talk more in Vienna soon.”

This is not the first high honor Professor Feulner has received.

Pope Francis knighted him in Dec. 2014, elevating him to the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great along with Dr. Clinton Brand for their work on the Anglicanae Traditiones commission, which developed the Divine Worship: the Missal, the liturgy used by the Personal Ordinariates for former Anglicans in the Catholic Church.