About Mark J. Kelly

Mark J. Kelly is "Revert" to the Catholic Church, after being dazed and malformed by the liturgical experiments of the 60s and 70s, he was reoriented by dear Protestant friends, Anglican and Reformed, to whom he remains ever grateful. He is an active member of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem (The Order of Malta)

St. Bede the Venerable on the Visitation

FROM A HOMILY BY ST. BEDE

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior. With these words, Mary first acknowledges the special gifts she has been given. Then she recalls God’s universal favors, bestowed unceasingly on the human race. When a man devotes all his thoughts to the praise and service of the Lord, he proclaims God’s greatness. His observance of God’s commands, moreover, shows that he has God’s power and greatness always at heart.

His spirit rejoices in God his savior and delights in the mere recollection of his creator who gives him hope for eternal salvation. These words are often for all Gods creations, but especially for the Mother of God. She alone was chosen, and she burned with spiritual love for the son she so joyously conceived. Above all other saints, she alone could truly rejoice in Jesus, her savior, for she knew that he who was the source of eternal salvation would be born in time, in her body, in one person both her own son and her Lord.

For the Almighty, has done great things for me, and holy is his name. Mary attributes nothing to her own merits. She refers all her greatness to the gift of the one whose essence is power and whose nature is greatness, for he fills with greatness and strength the small and the weak who believe in him.

She did well to add: and holy is his name, to warn those who heard, and indeed all who would receive his words, that they must believe and call upon his name. For they too could share in everlasting holiness and true salvation according to the words of the prophet: and it will come to pass, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. This is the name she spoke of earlier: and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.

Therefore, it is an excellent and fruitful custom of holy Church that we should sing Mary’s hymn at the time of evening prayer. By meditating upon the incarnation, our devotion is kindled, and by remembering the example of God’s Mother, we are encouraged to lead a life of virtue. Such virtues are best achieved in the evening. We are weary after the day’s work and worn out by our distractions. The time for rest is near, and our minds are ready for contemplation.”

From a homily by Saint Bede the Venerable, priest (Lib. 1, 4: CCL 122, 25-26. 30)

E.L. Mascall on Pentecost

Mascall’s insightful meditation connecting the Annunciation and Pentecost illustrates his devotion to the eternal mystery of the Incarnation.

Image result for pentecost & mary, english art

When the Spirit descended in tongues of fire, it was to make the waiting group into the mystical Body of Christ in a way analogous to that in which the descent of the Spirit upon Mary at her Annunciation had formed the natural body of Christ in her womb. Nevertheless, although the Mystical Body came into being by this new descent of the Spirit, there was not a new incarnation, Christ was not becoming man a second time, he was not assuming a new nature; the human nature which he had taken from his mother, in which he had died for our sins and risen again for our justification, was being made present under a new mode. There are not, strictly speaking, two bodies of Christ, a natural and a mystical, but one body of Christ which is manifested in two forms…

…In all these modes of manifestation, the human nature of Christ is the human nature which he took from Mary. The descent of the Holy Spirit on Mary at the Annunciation first formed it, the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles at Pentecost released it, so to speak, in the world as the Mystical Body of the Church, and the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Eucharistic elements brings it to us as the Sacramental Body.

(From:  E.L. Mascall, “Theotokos: The Place of Mary in the Work of Salvation,” in The Blessed Virgin Mary. Essays by Anglican Writers, ed. by E.L. Mascall and H.S. Box (Darton, Longman, and Todd, 1963) (H/T: Rev. Dr. Zachary Guiliano)

Meeting Mascall

Have you met the Rev. Canon Eric L. Mascall, OGSMascall

He was affectionately named the “greatest living 13th-century theologian”. In his profound writings, he was often, simply styled, E. L. Mascall. If you have not made his acquaintance, the arrival of Pentecost and Trinity Sunday is an excellent opportunity. Mascall would have us see these feasts, as with the entire liturgical year, as an ongoing, living part of the Incarnation of our Lord. This past Ash Wednesday, February 14, 2018, was the twenty-fifth anniversary of his departure from this life.  He left a legacy, in print and in his person, that continues to affect the Anglican Patrimony.  I never knew Eric Mascall in the flesh but I remember the first time I “met” him. I encountered Eric Mascall by contemplating the foreheads of his friends.

Whenever discussing a subject touching upon Anglicanism or 20th Century theologians with someone over forty-five, I will usually ask, “Did you know Eric Mascall?”  The reaction remains fairly universal; a pause, a thoughtful bow of the head, followed by a slow intake of breath that gives way to a warm smile, then these or similar words follow, “Oh yes, Eric Mascall… You know, he was the finest…” and as the freshly reflected face rises to normal bearing it is always a happier countenance. In all cases of this inquiry: faces warmed, eyes softened, voices went up an octave and a wonderful, blessed remembrance would follow. This involuntary homage would consistently replicate itself, be the interlocutor a cleric, scholar, former student or parishioner. Indeed, the only time I witnessed the Rev. Dr. Peter Toon ever get moist in the eyes is when he spoke of “my esteemed teacher”.

Eric Mascall continues to stand out for a number of pleasantly peculiar reasons. He was a Thomist in the Church of England, a gentle and pastoral priest, he found he was best suited for teaching and writing Theology.  Devotion and doctrine were happily wed in this celibate man who involved himself in the controversies of the time, retaining his gentleness without compromising fundamental beliefs of historic and creedal Christianity. According to the Proceedings of the British Academy, “Thus in his latter days some of his strongest rebukes were administered to those Anglican theologians who undermined belief in Christ’s deity and resurrection.”

Fr. George Rutler, in a wonderful excerpt concerning Mascall from his book, Cloud of Witnesses – Dead People I Knew When They Were Alive, warmly commends Mascall to us, “As the finest Thomist among the dying breed of High Anglicans, he was called the greatest living 13th-century theologian, but he had been trained as a mathematician and was prepared for the 21st century…” Of particular interest to members of the Ordinariate, Fr. Rutler adds, “Eric foresaw the decline of his ecclesial Communion and left me with no doubt that, had he lived, he would have acknowledged the infallibility of the pope.”

Eric Mascall was something of an autodidact. According to his obituary in the Independent, Mascall tended to make a slight boast of the fact that he had never had formal theological training. His degree was in Mathematics, he took a First in the subject at Pembroke College, Cambridge.  Yet he held such learned posts as Lecturer in Theology Christ Church Oxford 1945-46, Student and Tutor 1946-82 (Student Emeritus), University Lecturer in Philosophy of Religion 1947-62, Professor of Historical Theology King’s College London 1962-73 (Emeritus), Dean Faculty of Theology London University 1968-72.  Honorary Canon of Truro Cathedral 1973-84.

Mascall HandsRecently, one of Mascall’s earliest works, Christ, the Christian, and the Church: A Study of the Incarnation and Its Consequences has been happily republished by Hendrickson on October 1, 2017, and available at Amazon and other booksellers. Gerald McDermott in his Forward to the republished Christ and the Christian Church notes that Mascall’s theology was hailed for being wide-ranging, incisive, and elegant, and more importantly, “Mascall’s balanced focus on the Incarnation eliminates the false binaries that bedevil so much of the Church today.” For Eric Mascall living in the Church was living in the Body of Christ. The Incarnation is the ultimate and ongoing unitive event in human history, the very meeting place of God and Man.

(This edited and enhanced posting appeared previously on this blog)

For the Honour of God, The Sacrifice of Bl. Adrian Fortescue

Bl. Adrian Fortescue (2)

Sir Adrian Fortescue was well favored by King Henry VIII whom he faithfully served under arms. He was additionally honoured by his own cousin, Anne Boleyn, he was present when she was crowned as Queen in 1533. But Adrian held close and never lost sight of the Honour of God. 

In 1539 he was attainted of High Treason without trial, by an Act of Parliament. Sir Adrian Fortescue was beheaded on Tower Hill, London on Wednesday 9 July 1539.

The Order of St. John of Jerusalem has considered Sir Adrian as a martyr and has promoted devotion to him at least since the early seventeenth century as a member of the Order. Pope Leo XIII declared him Blessed on 13 May 1895. His Book of Hours with his Maxims is extant  and was recently presented to the Grand Priory of the order of St. John of England (aka, The Order of Malta) by his descendants.

Maxims of Blessed Adrian Fortescue

* Above all things love God with all thy heart.

* Desire His honour more than the health of your own soul.

* Take heed often with all diligence to purge and cleanse thy mind with Confession, and raise thy desire from earthly things.

* Receive Communion with entire devotion.

* Repute not thyself better than any other person, be they never so great sinners, but rather judge and esteem yourself most simplest.

* Judge the best.

* Use much silence, but when thou needs must, speak.

* Delight not in familiarity of persons unknown to thee.

* Be solitary as much as it is convenient with thine estate.

* Banish from thee all judging an detraction, and especially from thy tongue.

* Pray often.

* Also enforce thee to set thy house at quietness.

* Resort to God at every hour.

* Advance not thy words or deeds by any pride.

* Be not too much familiar, but show a serious and prudent countenance with gentleness.

* Show before all people a good example of virtues.

* Be no partial for favor, lucre or malice, but accordig to truth, equity, justice and reasons.

* Give fair language to all persons, and especially the poor and needy.

* Also be diligent in giving of alms.

* In prosperity be meek of heart, and in adversity patient

* And pray continually to God that you may do what is His pleasure.

* Also apply diligently the co-operations of the Holy Ghost whatever thou hast therin to do.

* Pray for perserverace.

* Continue in awe of God, and ever have Him before thine eyes.

* Renew every day thy good purpose.

* What thou has to do, do it diligently.

* Establish thyself always in well-doing.

* If by chance you fall into sin, despair not; and if you keep these precepts, the Holy Spirit will strengthen you in all other things necessary, and, thus doing, you shall be with Christ in Heaven, to Whom be glory, laud, honour, and praise everlasting.