Today the Rt. Rev. Mark Davies, Bishop of Shrewsbury celebrated his first public Tridentine Mass and administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to a group of candidates at the Dome of Home.
The liturgy at the landmark church of Ss Peter, Paul and Philomena on the Wirral, which since 2012 has been under the pastoral care of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, was most beautiful and reverent.
Here is a video of Bishop Mark giving his homily followed by a selection of photos of the Pontifical Low Mass with Confirmation:
How absolutely wonderful mmvc! And so lovely to see that now familiar blue of the ICKSP. Will the celebration of the EF Mass by Bishop Mark Davies now be a regular thing, do you know?
I hope to visit the Dome of the Home in early July. Can’t wait!
P.S. Were those beautiful clear photos taken by your talented son again?
It really was a beautiful and awe-inspiring occasion, Kathleen, and I’m so looking forward to your post about your Lourdes pilgrimage with the Institute.
I’m not sure whether Bishop Mark Davies will celebrate the EF regularly. I hope he will… After acquainting himself with it, he did celebrate the EF Mass at the ICKSP seminary in Gricigliano, so I guess this wasn’t strictly speaking a ‘first’ for him.
You won’t be disappointed by your visit to the Dome of Home. Check their new website beforehand to find out about guided tours, liturgies, events etc. Next Sunday is “Fatima Day” at Ss PPP – I’ll try to post about that too. And let me know when you’re coming so that we can meet up at last 🙂 !
Yes, the photos were taken by our Philip who has been asked to make a more in-depth documentary about the shrine church than the one he made last year (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pc9o_TBwqs). Watch this space…
No doubt you feel better for getting that off your chest, Toad…
The purpose of beautiful vestments, vessels, flowers, candles, incense etc. is to glorify God. Rather than refer to these as ‘bling’, please try to see in them a noble human effort to help raise hearts and minds to the Sacred Mysteries.
‘Il Poverello’ himself, the humble Saint Francis of Assisi who so inspires Pope Francis, admonished the clergy of his time to use the very best for liturgical functions:
“With all that is in me and more I beg you that, when it is fitting and you judge it expedient, you humbly beg the clergy to revere above all else the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and His holy names and the written words that sanctify His Body. They should hold as precious the chalices, corporals, appointments of the altar, and everything that pertains to the sacrifice. If the most holy Body of the Lord is very poorly reserved in any place, let It be placed and locked up in a precious place according to the command of the Church. Let It be carried about with great reverence and administered to others with discernment. Let the names and written words of the Lord, whenever they are found in dirty places, be also gathered up and kept in a becoming place.”
Finally, this excerpt from the Vatican website might help shed some more light on the function and significance of liturgical vestments:
“Beyond the historical circumstances, the sacred vestments had an important function in the liturgical celebrations: In the first place, the fact that they are not worn in ordinary life, and thus possess a “liturgical” character, helps one to be detached from the everyday and its concerns in the celebration of divine worship. Furthermore, the ample form of the vestments, the alb, for example, the dalmatic and the chasuble, put the individuality of the one who wears them in second place in order to emphasize his liturgical role. One might say that the “camouflaging” of the minister’s body by the vestments depersonalizes him in a way; it is that healthy depersonalization that de-centers the celebrating minister and recognizes the true protagonist of the liturgical action: Christ. The form of the vestments, therefore, says that the liturgy is celebrated “in persona Christi” and not in the priest’s own name. He who performs a liturgical function does not do so as a private person, but as a minister of the Church and an instrument in the hands of Jesus Christ. The sacred character of the vestments also has to do with their being donned according to what is prescribed in the Roman Ritual.
In the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite (the so-called Mass of Pius V), the putting on of the liturgical vestments is accompanied by prayers for each garment, prayers whose text one still finds in many sacristies. Even if these prayers are no longer obligatory (but neither are they prohibited) by the Missal of the ordinary form promulgated by Paul VI, their use is recommended since they help in the priest’s preparation and recollection before the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice.”
A Catholic world without the Tridentine Mass (High or Low – by which I mean Tridentine is not defined merely by vestments, Gregorian chant, incense, asperges, processions, etc.) would be an aesthetically, historically and spiritually impoverished one. I don’t resent Pope Francis’s demotic bent, but the Church is welcoming enough to accommodate other styles, and wise enough to remember, respect and preserve the symbols and treasures of its past.
On a more frivolous note, if I were to write Pope Francis and ask him if it’s okay to smoke while I pray, what do you think he would say when he telephoned me with his answer? What if, instead, I asked him if it’s okay to pray while I smoke? Moot questions, btw, having given up cigarettes in the last century.
That’s right – just like Judas who resented the “wastefulness” of the expensive oil being poured on the feet of Jesus by the repentant sinful woman! Any old way of dressing for the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by the clergy would be OK according to you, right? Our Blessed Lord does not deserve the very best in vestments, chalices, corporals etc…. any old thing would do, right?
Well, mmvc has given you some very good reasons why you are wrong, why everything surrounding the Sacred Body and Blood of Jesus Christ should be treated with nothing but the greatest respect and devotion. It seems to me that the more the prevalent casualness with which Our Blessed Lord is received in Holy Communion becomes the norm, the more disbelief in the Real Presence follows. The appalling abuses towards Our Lord’s Sacred Body that occur in some NO Masses must make all the angels of Heaven weep in horror. That is why the Tridentine Mass – where every part of the Mass is directed towards adoration and honour of God – is the Mass that protects the proper reverence and sacredness.
And by the way, Our Lord did not dress in “shabby peasant’s rags” at all. (Where on earth did you get that from?)
When the soldiers stripped Him of His garments they divided them into four parts among them; they would hardly have done that if they were no more than rags! Besides, the tunic was obviously a lovely garment, “seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom”, and so they drew lots for it (John 19:23-24).
Mmvc @ 21:25 yesterday
That is wonderful news! Congratulations to Philip. I shall certainly be “watching this space”. 😉
Yes thanks – I’ll check the website of the Dome of the Home beforehand; that’s a good idea.
Yes, we must meet up at last! (I’ll e-mail you about it.)
Very good points made here, particularly regarding Christ’s clothes. (“Tunics will be seamless this year, knee length, in Autumnal hues.”) I had never considered him as a snappy dresser before. (Of course, they’d detest his hippy hair style in Surbition, along with his lack of a “”proper job,” were he to return tomorrow.)
I also see the point regarding elaborately-embroidered vestments and big gold rings and huge pectoral crosses – in a way.
I’m been used to used to them for seventy years, (though I’ve found the concept somewhat troubling all that time) but can’t help wondering if all that brocade, gold thread, lace and gilded medieval splendour is not a barrier to many people, when it comes to “evangelising” – as is the constant imagery of “Kings” and “Lords,” “Servants,” and “Sheep.”
Went out with steam trains, Bing Crosby, doctors that smoked, and carbon paper – some might say.
It’s one thing priests on the altar looking neat, tidy, and even “elegant,” but after that… well matter of taste, like most things.
Of course, some men love all the glitter and glitz. Sadly, they are often men we would wish not to have too near our children. As we all know.
Re: smoking, I’ve read that Belloc would stroll about in churches, sucking on a gasper.
Probably put it out when Mass started, though. Surely?
We have to wonder what, “‘Il Poverello’ himself, the humble Saint Francis of Assisi who so inspires PopeFrancis,” would make of Cardinal Burke:
There. Got that off my chest. Feels good.
There. Got that off my chest. Feels good
No wonder. as Toads appear to be mostly chest with just a few slight additions for alimentary and mobility purposes.
Toads may be interested in our new wholly imported avant-guarde rags line. There are rags for work. rags for play and rags for solemn high liturgies. Toads may be more interested in our liturgical line rags. We can make to measure with a full money-back guarantee if not 150% pleased/overjoyed/in orbit. Order early while our best men’s room grungiest rag pickings last.
You’d better ask Rogér, GC. Vive la France! Vive la difference!
…But I do appreciate you – and everyone else who takes the trouble to read my patently brainless comments; particularly yourself, who then also take the extra trouble to provide them with the responses they deserve.
“The purpose of beautiful vestments, vessels, flowers, candles, incense etc. is to glorify God.”
Well, Mmve, it certainly glorifies something. We’d have to ask whether God – who is perfect in every respect and lacks nothing – actually needs glorifying in the first place.
…Though that is a bit theological for a toad.
Nevertheless, we might also ask if Cardinal Burke and Bishop Davis aren’t glorifying themselves to some small extent, accidentally even.
I don’t know. And, even if they are, there’s surely no harm in a little Razz-Ma-Tazz?
Because, as the great Irving Berlin rightly tells us;
(Rendered with great brio by Ethel Merman, AKA “The Human Foghorn.”)
Mr/Mrs/Ms Toadspit, is no dill, despite the conclusion a casual reader would/could reach. There is a lot more to Him/Her that meets the eyes His/Her penchant for, and the use of, reverse psychology is clever and very astute. My humble advice: Just keep plugging away old Chap/Lass/Girl.
“We would have to ask if God, -who is perfect in every respect and lacks nothing- actually needs glorifying in the first place” Yep your right it is a bit too theological even for a Toad whatever his/her gender.
PS… To Kathleen on the 5th may. Right on again
Well yes maybe there is glory to the dressing up for the bishop/cardinal…
[The Moderator writes – The personal attack on +Davis with which you conclude your comment will not be published on this blog.]
Thanks Geoff… By the way, it is Mr. Toadspittle, known just as ‘Toad’ by those of us to whom he has been spitting at these last four years! 😉
You just don’t see it, do you? You are accusing one of the holiest and most humble of bishops – who incidentally is also one of the few who does not fear to teach the fullness of Catholic Truth – of being vain and conceited. And your evidence for this? ‘Motes’ and ‘beams in eyes’ come to mind.
Kathleen I would not ever say he was vain and conceited.
[The moderator writes – Good to have that point resolved.]
Thank God for +Davies!
I am a practising Anglican and former reader / Lector in my local church in Wirral, with a love of ecclesiastical tradition and history, ( something which my own church sadly seems to be abandoning ) and have been following the progress of this wonderful church and all that has been happening here. I have to say I am drawn to the splendour and majesty of worshipping God in the truly inspiring way that has been evidenced at the Dome. I would love to attend a service at this church ( although as an Anglican I know I would not be able to participate in the act of communion which is sad ) but have to admit to being slightly nervous of attending the dome as a stranger. I should not feel this way as a Christian who believes that wherever God resides should be home whatever the denomination. Perhaps someone could suggest an appropriate service for me to attend so that I could find a quiet corner and perhaps discover in your church what I have for so long been trying to find:) Thank you
It is wonderful that you have been inspired by everything you have witnessed at the Dome of the Home. I am not from that part of England myself, but mmvc (one of my team-mates and friends) who is, has asked me to respond for her. (She has a blip on her computer at the moment!) The http://domeofhome.org/ website has contact details if you would like to discuss your situation with one of the priests there.
Most certainly you would be welcome to attend the beautiful Mass celebrated in the Dome – don’t have any qualms about not feeling welcome to do so – though you are quite right that as an Anglican you cannot partake of Holy Communion… yet. The reason for this is the same for all those who are out of full communion with the Catholic Church; the spiritual unity must happen first by entering into full unity with the Church through the rites of initiation.
May I also suggest to you that you read the conversion stories of converts to the Catholic Church (e.g. Bl. Cardinal John Henry Newman, G.K. Chesterton, Fr. Dwight Longnecker, etc.); this would be very helpful for you to understand how so many fine men of integrity over the centuries have found the fullness of Truth in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church that Our Blessed Lord founded on Peter 2000 years ago. Marcus Grodi of EWTN also has an interesting weekly programme called “The Journey Home” where he interviews converts to the Faith.
I hope and pray it all goes well; God bless you John.
Kathleen, thank you very much indeed for taking the time to reply to me -.A very positive experience for a potential first step, and thank you for the suggested reading. Indeed I know the work of Newman, and John Keble, as during my 3 year training in Chester Diocese to become a Lector, I studied ( as one of the divinity modules ) his work, and was a great devotee of the work of the Oxford Movement.My current church is in my view one of the most beautiful in the Wirral, and my family have worshipped there for several generations and so it holds a lot of meaning for me with so many family associations and memories, but there have been a lot of changes within the Anglican Church. I have tried to adopt the view that this is a manifestation of God’s plan for his church militant, and that such change is guided by the Holy Spirit, and that the word of God is heard in many and various ways throughout the ages, which I accept may be true, but when it comes to my personal spiritual fulfilment and communion with God, I no longer feel channels are open. Watering down and simplification of traditional services, modernisation of language and the associated loss of beauty in the spoken word, More informal Eucharists, the loss of wonderful services such as Matins and Sung Evensong ( a service that as a Lector I would sing every Sunday ) seem to me to suggest a loss of respect rather than making it more attractive to potential converts ( but that is just my opinion ) One of the greatest privileges was my role as a server. Never was I so aware of the presence of God when I was in that role. No matter how many times I assisted at communion I would feel my heart pound in my chest with the sheer privilege and responsibility, particularly when I would help with the administration. In recent years I have tried to find a deeper spirituality in other Anglican Churches in my area and was able to find one that held regular mass and Benediction and was invited to join the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament ( Anglican), but even though it was a church I belonged to, I never really had the sense of “belonging”. In any case. Thank you very much for your words, and I will take heed of all you say. All good Wishes John
Thank you for this John, but to be honest, I could not quite work out some of your meaning from the sentence which starts with the words: “I have tried t adopt the view….” I’ll pick out a few things that I find confusing.
For Catholics the “Church Militant” is the Catholic Church on Earth (as compared to the “Church Triumphant” in Heaven), that is the One Holy Catholic Church, that in spite of everything, has remained faithful to its very beginnings under its Vicar of Christ (Peter and subsequent Popes) and to all the earliest Fathers of the Church – the Fathers who wrote out and explained its teachings on Dogmas and Doctrines revealed through the life and words of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Henry VIII broke that Apostolic succession when he broke away and formed his own church.
“Since Truth cannot be divided, to deny, or to fail to believe in just ONE divinely revealed truth (i.e. a dogma of the Church) is to fail to believe ENTIRELY what God has revealed. Again, as an attribute of God, Truth has no parts. It can only be believed in its entirety or it is not held at all, for Truth cannot be divided.” (The Attribute of Truth)
“Confusion” would never be “guided by the Holy Spirit”, being as He is the Spirit of Unity. Confusion is more likely to be the work of the Devil.
Modernism is indeed a great evil that has infiltrated into the minds and institutions of so much of our western society today, and is even attacking the Church. Many Popes like Bl. Pius IX and St. Pius X have written lengthy warnings of its wiles and dangers.
This article given to me by a friend of CP&S might interest you. It relates letters between a would-be convert to Catholicism, H. Lyman Stebbins, and C.S. Lewis, describing how he was converted by Lewis’ less than convincing reasoning for not becoming a Catholic! Now there’s a paradox for you. 🙂
HI again Kathleen and thanks again for what you say and I am sorry for any confusion. I suppose what we say and the way we express ourselves will be from a particular standpoint – that being from our own particular tradition within the Christian faith, and I stand the risk of writing an essay lol
Yes my understanding of the Church Militant is the same, insofar as it relates to the church here on earth, and I suppose at this juncture, so that my point is clear (albeit erroneous from the point of view of a Roman catholic …. And I hasten to add many Low Church Anglicans of a more protestant persuasion) I have always tried to hold fast to the view that despite the shameful antics of Henry VIII, the Anglican Church did in its early formation bring with it more continuity than change and remained “catholic and Apostolic” as the creed says, and that the spiritual leaders of the communion – again despite Henry VIII, did remain faithful to church teaching, as it had been taught from the Time of Peter ,though of course the significance of the break with Rome is central to how we look at things. This brings into play the dual issues of Apostolic Succession and church doctrine, the former ( and per se Anglican Orders ) being denied as valid by the Vatican, and that invalidity being again reconfirmed not that long ago. I was born in to the Anglican faith and for better or for worse I have tried to be faithful to it. I have known no other. I had no choice in the matter, and I grew up and was nurtured within it and explored its winding paths and listened to its arguments and like any true traditional Anglican came to a “view” of what my church was for me and to me. I loved it and still do. I was taught my faith, baptised, confirmed, and Licenced as a lay minister, with a view to perhaps one day training for the priesthood, and have had many arguments with friends and colleagues about the nature of Anglicanism, which I guess has ultimately brought me to be here writing this. Whilst I have always believed in the authority of the Anglican Hierarchy, and in the continuance of the line of apostolic succession right back to Peter, – for that has been my traditional stance as I evolved into an “Anglo Catholic” – (and as such recognise the Papacy and Hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church) the problem has been for me the lack of direction and leadership within the Anglican church, and the concerns that the Anglicans are moving too far away from Orthodoxy, and for me this means moving further and further away from the seat of the Christian faith which is Rome . OK my views are as a High Church Anglo Catholic who has become increasingly disillusioned with lack of leadership, lack of direction loss of tradition, (factors which a few of my more protestant friends would embrace), but my hope had always been that the rift between Rome Canterbury would one day be healed but I doubt this will be any time soon. I fully understand your viewpoint insofar as you are speaking from the standpoint of the Roman Catholic Church having a pure and proven line right back to Peter which is flawless and unbroken, and your view that anything less can never be valid or pure, which is absolutely correct from the standpoint of the Roman Catholic church, I just simply wish it was thus for Anglicans, but for that, we can only look to history. We Anglicans who follow on can but hope that the Holy Spirit will guide us home I am no academic and my writing may not be as clear as I would like it to be, but my words are from the heart
I just came across this thread (and your very moving story), and thought that the following articles might help. The first is one that explains why Anglican orders are invalid, but does so from a position of pastoral care and makes a great effort to affirm that this does not undermine the great contribution of Anglican ministry (just not priestly ministry):
Also, the following articles by Fr. Dwight Longenecker (who Kathleen mentioned above) may be useful to you:
God bless you, and good luck in your journey. All the advice Kathleen has already provided is very good, and I certainly think that a visit to the Dome would help to place all the more technical stuff in a wider perspective. When beauty and truth meet together it is a wonderful thing 🙂
P.S. When I said ‘makes a great effort to affirm that this does not undermine the great contribution of Anglican ministry (just not priestly ministry)’ I didn’t mean that Anglican priestly ministry wasn’t seen as worthwhile or real ministry, just that they are not actually seen as being ordained priests! Sorry for any confusion there – the main point is though that whilst Anglican clergy are not part of the priesthood of the Church, their efforts in ministry are still very much valid and to be admired 🙂
Hi mkenny114. I have just finished reading the piece on Anglican orders. As you say its a very sensitive piece and comments very fairly on the status of many in the Anglican Ministry ( I will refer to it as that in deference to where I am in this forum lol ), and illustrates the degree of pain, sadness and disappointment that many sincere and practising believers in the Anglican Church feel in respect of their relationship with Rome. There are many aspects of the piece that I can relate to so very very well, particularly in respect of my personal stance of being an Anglo Catholic which I have referred to earlier. It is one thing to hold onto, and promote Orthodox Catholic Doctrine,as an Anglo Catholic in a sometimes hostile environment ( Anglicans are renowned for being a “Broad” church ), but another, to then as it where, have ones ministry rejected by the very source it was promoting on the grounds of an ancient schism born out of what was in essence a political manoeuvre that has and should never have had a bearing on the work of a true God Fearing minister whose role is and should always have been to tend his flock, administer the sacraments and look after the spiritual welfare of all. OK that is an over simplification, and I well know there is a lot more to it than that both theologically and politically ( but then a great deal of Anglican theology was born out of political pressure of one sort or another in the early years), but there again, the imposition of protestant doctrine on what was, immediately after the reformation, essentially supposed to be a “continuation” of the Catholic church in England, had little to do with the priests and ministers whose vocation it was to tend the flock and expand Gods Kingdom on earth, and more to do with the use of the church as a political tool (part of the problem with being an established church I suppose ).In recent years the Anglican church is thankfully far less prone to “towing the line” , but with its new found freedom is I feel tending to lose its way quite significantly
Hi again John,
Thank you for giving such a detailed explanation of your situation and views, and for doing so in such a measured and gentlemanly way. I haven’t had time to look through all Michael’s links yet (Michael = mkenny114) but I’m sure anything he gives you will be good and extremely helpful.
With absolutely no intention of offending you – please believe me – I have to state that the lie all Anglicans have been brought up with – that their church has always maintained Apostolic succession – just does not stand up. When Henry VIII broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Catholic Church, his move could be seen as more a political movement rather than a theological one (Henry himself had condemned the Protestant Reformation in Europe a few years earlier) but it became the catalyst for error to enter. The doors had been opened for Protestant ideology to be forcibly imposed on the whole country under the militant Protestant Reformers who took over in the reign of Henry’s son, the boy king Edward VI. The dissemination of its ideas were even further established during the long reign of Elizabeth I (excommunicated by Pope St. Pius V btw) and the break with Catholicism was completed; England and Wales had in effect become Protestant. In fact all vestiges of Catholicism (“papistry” as the reformers disdainfully termed it) were wiped out with great hate, determination and violence by the English reformers, and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the very heart and centre of the Faith, disappeared completely (except in hiding by small pockets of faithful recusant Catholics). Literally thousands of heroic men and women (in all parts of the British Isles, including Ireland in those days) were martyred for the True Faith, brutally tortured and executed for refusing to accept the ‘new religion’. One could almost say it is an affront to their sacrifice to sustain that this new church was in any way still a church of Apostolic succession!
For centuries after the break with Rome the Anglican church looked very very Protestant, only gradually moving back in the last 100 years (more or less) to recover and resemble a lot of the beauty of Catholicism that it had torn away from. Nowadays, once again, it shares a lot with Catholicism in its outward appearance, and this has greatly improved relations and understanding between Anglicans and Catholics – surely a good thing. However, Anglicanism will remain ‘the nut without the kernel’ until it comes back to union with the One Church, recognising the authority of the Pope and Magisterium of the Church, and accepting all her teachings.
There is also the Ordinariate formed under Pope Benedict XVI to help Anglicans who want to be reunited with the Catholic Church, but still want to understandably hang on to some of their lovely prayers and customs (such as Evensong that you mentioned).
The many outstanding converts to Catholicism from the Anglican church over the years have greatly enriched the Catholic Church. Their courage, knowledge, zeal and honest integrity have had a very positive effect on (the often too complacent) Catholics who have not had to tread the hard road of discernment and suffering that usually come hand-in-glove with conversion.
Many thanks for your reply, and I am glad you found the article useful. What Kathleen has written above just now is right on the money, and the only thing I would add to what she has already written, in response to you, is that the imposition of Protestant doctrine on the clergy and people did have very much to do with the daily work of that clergy and the beliefs of the people they tended to. As Kathleen has pointed out, whilst it is undeniable that this all started out as a political move by Henry VIII, in putting his own desires above God’s laws, he opened the door for real theological change to occur.
It seems hard to deny that a.) the changes in doctrine, ecclesiology and liturgy during this long period of change had a great influence on England’s religious life, making it a Protestant country in (some) Catholic clothing, and b.) that any claims the English church may have had to maintaining apostolic succession went out the window with those changes. Whilst the Oxford Movement reintroduced a lot that the Reformation jettisoned, it did not and cannot restore that broken link. For anyone who sees the existence of a sacramental priesthood as being central to the Faith, this is a very important point.
It would be nice if we could say that the validity of one’s orders and any subsequent Eucharists celebrated were down to the beliefs of the individual minister(s), and not affected by other factors, but in reality this is an untenable position – if it were the case, anyone could step up and consecrate the elements, just so long as they believed enough orthodox doctrine. Hard as it may be to accept, whether or not Jesus is present on the altar depends upon His word, not ours, and thus one has to ask who is able to speak for Him authoritatively.
Anyway, Fr. Longenecker’s articles put all this much better, and Kathleen has already given a very good description of the seriousness of what happened during the Reformation, so I direct you to them! Again though, I really wish you good luck and all blessings in your journey – it seems you are a good way along already though 🙂
Good Morning Kathleen and Michael,
I have read both your posts, and firstly let me say I take no offence whatsoever, since what you both say is exactly as per my understanding in terms of the events of the time, though Michael, as an aside, I do wonder how “protestant” the majority of Anglican ministers were immediately following the break with Rome. The intentional vagueness of the 1662 Prayer Book in respect of the nature of for example the Eucharist as well as other practices suggests more of a leaning towards catholic practice than Protestant. I am sure many ministers did remain “Catholic” in their interpretation but that is not really relevant, or the point, since it all comes down to excommunication, the intentional break with Rome, and the subsequent denial by the Catholic church of Anglican orders based on that break, and the enmity that was born of that break and none of these actions can be denied; moreover, “Catholic Practice” means nothing from the perspective of the Roman Catholic Church if it has no foundation in terms of Roman Catholic understanding and so in the final analysis ( for an Anglican) it comes down to interpretation; and this is the crux of my dilemma, and you will forgive me I am sure, for speaking as someone who has been for all his life a devout and reverent Anglican who has worshiped with a true heart and has tried as best as possible to live by the teaching of Our Lord, showing due reverence to the sacraments, and believing he is in true communion with God, in a church which he believed to be true. It pains me greatly to have to consider that this may all have been a lie. It is challenging indeed to have to face the prospect of denying 50+ years of belief in a body that has nurtured you and brought you closer to God, but I accept that it is important to face such issues, as this is part of the journey, and no one said it would be easy. It has taken me a long time to arrive at this place and the steps I am considering are not being taken lightly or without consideration or prayer. Being Christian I take comfort in the view that where I have been in the past and where I am now is God’s will, and the fact that I am even on here discussing these challenging issues is down to the Holy Spirit. Additionally I also take comfort in the fact that whilst my communion with God may have been inadequate in terms of doctrine, it was pre and genuine in my heart
Well I will get back to reading these extremely useful article that you have both sent me, and just as an aside I would like to say thanks for your guidance, honesty and support and though in many respects it is a difficult issue for me to come to terms with it is also extremely stimulating and in a strange way pleasurable Thank you both again
Yes I see what you mean, and I absolutely agree that the vast majority of ministers remained Catholic in their beliefs immediately following the break with Rome. This is the great tragedy of the English Reformation, that England was such a devoutly Catholic country up to that point, and Protestantism was forced upon clergy and people by the state. In fact, there is a very thorough (albeit rather heavy-going in parts!) book on this by Christopher Haigh, called ‘English Reformations’ where he goes through reams of documentary evidence to show just how vibrant English Catholicism was, and how ‘top-down’ the changes were.
It is also true that the political compromises wrought by the Elizabethan government did preserve some elements of Catholic practice, and allow more room for interpretation than in other Protestant countries, and the CofE has nurtured those elements well, and added some distinctive liturgical elements of its own – these were the reasons Pope Benedict was so keen to provide a means for that Anglican patrimony to be maintained whilst being in full communion with the Catholic Church, via the Ordinariate. Here is a list of Ordinariate groups if you are interested in going down that road (as it would enable you to keep in touch with much of what you have so treasured over the years):
What you say about where you have been in the past and where you are headed now being equally part of God’s way of directing your life towards fuller communion with Him is very true, and you should certainly not feel that becoming a Catholic will mean leaving anything behind. Whether via the Ordinariate or not, coming into full communion with the Church will allow you to affirm all that is good in where you have been before, but will also bring it into a greater fulfilment and put it in a richer context. You certainly do not have to feel that what you lived and learned as an Anglican is without value; it was simply not the fullness of the Truth.
Ultimately I think the questions one has to ask here though, is what is the Church; what did Christ want for His people; did He make provisions for His will to be known and what are they; is it up to us to interpret the truths of the Faith for ourselves or is there a Body we can go to to find out; what does this Body look like?
I hope the resources that Kathleen and myself have suggested will help you to answer these questions, and again God bless you for sharing this very moving account of where the Spirit has led you and is leading you.
P.S. In ‘you should certainly not feel that becoming a Catholic will mean leaving anything behind’ I meant you should not feel that you have to leave everything behind. Obviously not all in Anglicanism is compatible with Catholic teaching, and some things will indeed need to be left behind 🙂 The main thing though is that all that is good in your prior experience can indeed be affirmed, and will be given even greater depth.
P.P.S. Last one (honest)! Kathleen mentioned ‘The Journey Home’ before, and this is a particularly good episode. I don’t know if it is because the man in question is a lawyer, but he gives an exceptionally clear and concise presentation of his reasons for converting:
Hi Michael, and thanks for the kind words and sensitive understanding you show in respect of my “Struggle”. I have listened to the broadcast and can relate in so many ways to what Don Brey says. Although our journies have been somewhat different with him having had the added experience of Methodism before arriving at Episcopalianism, Notwithstanding, I believe I am in concord with his views in almost every respect. One particular point made a a great impact on me, and that was his assertion that it was Jesus’ intention for the church to be one body, and clearly it is not with its various factions. In previous messages I have suggested that some within one of the several ( not all ) traditions within the Anglo Catholic wing in the C of E following the reformation, have asserted that it – the Church of England -was a continuation of the Universal church which was reformed due to what is saw as the errors of Rome, and was thus the true manifestation of Catholic orthodoxy in England. Whilst one may engage in heated discussion over such an assertion, which many on both sides will doubtless have very strong views on – it is not my intention to go down that path, other than to mention it without prejudice, in the context of how the C of E has seen fit in its most catholic manifestation, to justify itself. Even if this were true,( and for fear of upsetting anyone, I am NOT saying this is true so please do not shoot the messenger ) , one can not I think, take the view that what was in essence a small branch from a very large tree could be considered a valid alternative to the Roman Church and a Roman Episcopate with an impeccable line all the way back to Peter,with over 1500 years of teaching and tradition under its belt, particularly when seen in the light of the origins of the schism ( as you put it in paraphrase ” Henry’s own Desires “), In the final analysis it has to admitted that it was Henry who was responsible for breaking the unity of the church when he declared himself head of the church in England with no mandate or authority whatsoever. These issues I have no problem with. From a personal perspective I accept that it was wrong for a mere King to assume the right to be head of a church instituted by Jesus and continued through the ages by apostolic succession, and with the successor to Peter at its head. As Don Brey suggests, Much of what is practised in Anglicanism ( and especially the “difficult” bits )are not given too much thought. We do it because it is there to do, and we cling onto those doctrines within the Broad church of Anglicanism – be they Catholic Evangelical Protestant – as best befits our particular kind of churchmanship, If as Anglo Catholics we want to believe in Transubstantiation we are free to do so, and indeed we should, In the the C of E that is a matter between us as individuals and God, in the hope that purity of faith will justify our respective beliefs and practices. If on the other hand we see the Eucharist as “symbolic” of the body and Blood of Christ we are free to do that also, but as Don Brey suggests,as a church we lose the orthodoxy of true Catholicism on 2 counts on this one issue alone. The first being that in denying transubstantiation the Protestant wing, who see their salvation predominantly in biblical text, are denying the self same written word which clearly states – “Take eat; this is my body”. it is unequivocal in its meaning, and on the second issue they are denying the wholeness of the church in becoming one body “Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread” so where does that leave us as Anglicans? 0 broken within our own communion, let alone broken from the church universal Authority and teaching in the church go hand in hand, and whilst I believe that the Holy Spirit .works within each one of us to the end that truth will manifest itself in the fullness of time, guidance is much needed The church must be the final arbiter of orthodoxy, for that is why there are priests and Bishops. We ere and need to be put back on the right track – sheep in need of shepherds Very much like Don Brey I have adhered to my own brand of churchmanship, using the freedom of thought in the Anglican tradition to satisfy my particular needs and methods of communing with our Lord, whilst choosing not to think too much about my brothers and sisters who kneel with me at the alter rail and who I know I am not in true communion with. Its very sad. Unity in Diversity it is called but I have a more simple term for it ” Broken” Thank you gain Michael. I have said too much I think. The ramblings of a confused man lol God Bless !
Hi, John. Are you the only inhabitant of a
soccerfootball mad nation who isn’t mesmerized by what’s going on in Brazil right now? That’s good, because neither am I. I’m in a little hotel room in Toronto right now, and the shouts and laughter from the surrounding Little Italy, Greektown and other immigrant communities in this great city are distracting me from preparing for the seminars I’m attending here. I should’ve booked a room in Chinatown a few klicks away. I don’t think the Chinese care about the “Beautiful Game”.
Where was I? Right: Not only do we share similar names and an ambivalence about football – not to mention square head / spectacular teeth avatars – but I also used to participate in the rite of consubstantiation within the Anglican precincts to which you belong. I was sad to leave that denomination and its ceremonies. Because it was a beautiful experience. Not a spiritual one in the way that II now define spirituality – although I then thought it was – but a supremely sublime one, and one upon which my salvation absolutely depended, even though I didn’t know it at the time. To explain why my salvation depended, absolutely depended, upon my Anglican experience would take a far longer comment than our hosts and readers should have to cope. Suffice it to say for now (I expect to write my memoirs someday) that life is a long road.
Well okay, if you insist, let’s talk about me, just for a minute 😉
was conceived on June 17th, 1949, converted from Anglicanisn to the Church on Sunday, July 4th (Independence Day), 2004. Technically, I didn’t convert until I was confirmed at the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday 25 March 2005, but July 4th, 2004 was the day when I first participated in a Catholic service here with the firm intention of becoming Catholic, although I’d been present at many Catholic churches and events for a half century before that. Another story for another day.
My final conversion in 2004/05 was preceded by my baptism in 1952, two years after I was born (don’t ask), by a United Church (Methodist) minister, and later by my departure from said denomination after it accepted homosexuality as an alternative ‘way of being’ and, more importantly, after it began questioning the divinity of Jesus (of course without ever questioning that He was a Good Man – assuming that He ever was a man) and then by my next-to-last-transfer that was accomplihed without any sacramental ceremony whatsoever (because we want to be inclusive, don’t we?) – into the Church of England, where I learned, for the first time, the importance – the essential and indispensable importance of liturgy. The wonderful, beautiful, precious Church of England is where I first participated, as an adherent, in a liturgy that showed me what worship was meant to be and how important it is.
But then, the Church of England (meaning the worldwide Anglican Communion and not your particualr neck of the woods) began following the road travelled by my first love, the United Church of Canada, the denomination into which I was baptised as a Christian (a completely valid baptism never to be repeated) with their same-sex partnership blessings (or worse) and other meanderings from doctrine, such as women ministers, and I knew it was time to continue my pilgrimage. But not without a salute to what the Anglicans taught me, which is why, whenever I’m in the aisle seat at Mass, I bow deeply as the atar boy (or girl) with the Crucifix approaches during the Recessional. That’s a custom I learned from the Anglicans and which I treasure, but which cradle Catholics don’t seem to know about, although I’ve never been to an EF Mass and can’t comment on that.
I think this blog is fortunate to have you, a faithful Anglo-Catholic, as a commenter. Strictly speaking, I don’t think you’re Catholic, but you’re close enough to us that I’m more than happy to call you such as a courtesy. The biggest single problem separating you from us is your ambiguity about Communion, which we say and believe means eating the body of Christ, actually chewing and swallowing his flesh. Here are your words:
Sad to say, this is the pith and core of the 39 Articles (although I’m in a liitle hotel without my library and beg your indulgence on that basis); but that’s not a religion. A religion has to belive in one set of things in order to be a religion, otherwise it’s only a lifestyle.
Again, I say that you’re type of commenter adds value to this blog. You’re a Christian, not exactly on message – in that you challenge our opinions without insulting them – but one of us all the same.
One final anecdote: When I went to my first confession at St Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto, I decided that I would first go that morning to Metropolitan United Church, commonly known in Canada as the Cathedral of Methodism, to sit in the pews awhile and to say farewell, because the United Church is where I first accepted Christ. I went to the front entrance doors. All locked on Saturday morning. I went to the side doors around the building – all locked. Then I walked across the street to St Michael’s Cathedral through the front doors – all open – to be forgiven, absolved and invited into Holy Mother Church, which I hope is your destination as well, John, in the fullness of time.
Good Morning John, I have become a terrible insomniac since being on here, and another word about the beautiful game will send me to a monastery !!! lol What a fascinating and extremely interesting email, which I will read in depth again later today though I think I had better curb my wondering, and verbosity on the basis I think perhaps I might have high jacked this forum, which is after all about the wonderful Dome of Home !!. I would however as a matter of importance like to clarify something. In all I have written thus far on the subject, I have I think, tended make comment on the Anglican church rather than to talk about “me” in an attempt to do one major thing, ( in some ways I have been thinking out loud ) and in the spirit of generosity and love I have been trying to justify the existence of the Anglican church. Isn’t this part of the struggle of any potential convert who has been nurtured in the bosom of a church he has always loved ? I love my church but cant live with it, and I get increasingly upset when I see things it does wrong and moves further and further way from what Jesus wants it to be;but. goodness we all make excuses for the ones we love, and you would not castigate me for that I know; but we also can become blind to the faults of those we love , so thanks John you have done me a great service insofar as you have in your email, brought me to a point where I guess I should make a statement about what I believe, not what my church necessarily believes. Irrespective of being an Anglican, Catholic, or man from the moon. I believe in the authority of the catholic church. I believe the catholic church is the true church instituted by Jesus with its head directly descended from Peter I believe in the sanctity of the sacraments and in the supremacy of the communion in the catholic sense, and including transubstantiation, I believe in the position of Our Lady as the Mother Jesus and per se as the Mother of God – part of the undivided trinity,summed up perfectly in the Angelus the words clearly based on the Gospel of Mathew, and I believe in the saints as intercessors on our behalf, and that we should pay homage to them as supporters of the church. I do not believe the Anglican church has the right or power to make unilateral decisions about what the church is, as this also serves to deepen the rift between Christians and has no evidence in scripture to support it, thus I question deeply institution of a female priesthood, and am totally outraged at the idea of a female episcopate, I believe in the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman only, I believe in the efficacy of a liturgical church that should remain constant and faithful to its origins and be both meaningful respectful and beautiful in the eyes of God. I believe that the worship of God should be presented in manner that Glorifies him. Look how we elevate a monarch when they are crowned with the pomp and ceremony that goes with it. If we do this for a mortal, then to glorify God in the Eucharist in the beauty of liturgical splendour is the very least we can do.That I have held fast to these belief in a church that does NOT whole heartedly support them is hard, and it has been in the spirit of love that I have made excuses for my church’s shortcomings.So there you have it. No pussyfooting around no theological debate. This is what I believe. John, I have to go as I am late for an appointment, but I will read you message again later, and thanks so much
I am so glad that what Don Brey says in the video was of help to you, insofar as you have related strongly to what he had to say and that it has (presumably) helped to clarify your own experience and beliefs.
As an ex-Anglican myself, I can fully sympathise with the confusion you have felt/are feeling over the Eucharist – I always had trouble reconciling the fact that not only was the person next to me seeing it in a very different way to me, but that in another Anglican church down the road the minister might see his ministry as decidedly anti-clerical, contrary to the one in my church who saw himself as being part of a sacramental priesthood!
For me, this degree of latitude (and, to be honest, out right confusion) regarding the Eucharist – the Sacrament of Unity – was untenable, and definitely the final straw. This is of course, as you say, just the worst case example of the Anglican embracing of diversity over and against unity, so that even in the most ‘high’ of Anglo-Catholic churches you don’t know what you’re going to hear from the pulpit: ‘Private judgement in glorious vestments’ is one way I’ve heard it described 🙂
Anyway, I thank you again for opening up so much here and for your generosity of character. You have been living through a confusing time over the last few years it seems, but I certainly do not think you are confused yourself! You have clearly given this a great deal of thought, and the Truth is evidently very important to you – you will not go wrong if you keep following it as you have been 🙂 God bless you, and again I wish you all the best in your journey.
I found your response to Michael and me yesterday @ 10:20 very moving. Thank you again for your tremendous honesty and integrity that shine through everything you have shared with us here.
Michael has done a great job (with his usual kindness and sensitivity) in filling you in with some of the things I left out in my earlier comment to you. And I heard from mmvc (who lives in the same area of England as you do) that you are now in e-mail contact together – I’m so happy about that.
I fully concur with Michael when he says: “all that is good in your prior experience can indeed be affirmed, and will be given even greater depth [in the Catholic Church]”, so please don’t be “sad” by the fact that the CofE that “nurtured” you and that you loved for so long is being shown up not to have maintained Apostolic succession as you had believed. Yes, I reiterate that this is of course a lie – Apostolic succession was utterly severed at the time of the English Reformation – but that is hardly your fault, or the fault of the many good Anglicans born into that faith system in the following centuries. The CofE is still a very Christian church containing many of the same Doctrines (though not all) as the Catholic Church… and this is why I believe Anglicans find conversion to Catholicism much easier and less challenging than many of the churches that are far more Protestant in their theology and practices (and thus much further from the Truth).
Are most of the problems of the CofE due to its lack of an Divinely-inspired authoritative body to decide on important matters of Faith and Morals? Most people would agree that this is its fundamental problem – after the break it lost its anchor – and has since been tossed on the seas of diversity of teachings.
Our great commenter johnhenry [thanks for a good laugh JH] has given you a clear example of one of these root weaknesses of the CofE’s wavering on Truth in your very own example on the Doctrine of Transubstantiation! Is the bread and wine consecrated by the priest the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, or not? As mentioned before, and as anyone with any logic or intelligence will agree, Truth can only be One, (i.e. an established belief like this can’t be two things at the same time i.e. one will be right and the other thing will automatically be wrong.) This tendency to vacillate between ideas is a typical attribute of Anglicanism, which is why G.K. Chesterton (I think it was) called the Anglican Church from which he came, “Mr. Looking-both-ways”!
Just one more other thing I would like to mention, having sometimes found recent converts to Catholicism deplore the fact that some ‘cradle Catholics’ seem to be so lacking in knowledge and enthusiasm for their Church. The Catholic Church is the One Holy ‘Bride of Christ’, where amazing achievements, miracles, advances in medicine, science, art and architecture, literature, music, etc., holy saints and martyrs and many other wonderful things have been born and brought forth great and wonderful fruits…. but she is also a Church full of sinners. Through the choice of Judas the betrayer as one of the chosen twelve, perhaps Our Lord wanted us to realise that we shall always have to suffer bad examples in the form of notorious sinners among the members of the Church. This bad witness, that you also refer to, has done (and does) the Church much harm, but cannot take away from the Holiness and Purity of her teachings.
Joanna Bogle – a well-known Catholic English journalist and author – has written a book entitled “Come on In – It’s Awful!” for people discerning their conversion to the Faith! 😆 (I think she was intending to warn would-be Catholics that not everything is plain sailing once one is ‘home’, but it is still the best and only place to be.)
God bless you John on your journey, and be assured of our prayers for you.
P.S. I hadn’t read either your last comment John, or Michael’s, when I pressed ‘send’ on mine, having been called away from the computer when I had just begun to write it a couple of hours ago! Some of the issues I mention here had already been clarified by both of you. Sorry about your “insomnia”! 🙂
Hello John, Michael and Kathleen, First off can I say how much I enjoyed reading your piece John, and reading between the lines I do strongly suspect we have a lot in common and you say many things to which once again I can relate. Again to Michael John and Kathleen I have little if any argument against what you say. To take certain points at random. Yes there is a seriously defective leadership problem in the C 0F E and Kathleen has hit the nail on the head by saying that there is a “lack of an Divinely-inspired authoritative body to decide on important matters of Faith and Morals” leaving the way open for that most typical of Anglican traits personal interpretation, which will inevitably causes discord ( as shown in the debate about female clergy and Gay marriage to mention but 2 and I have not even mentioned liturgical practice ) and ultimately further schism; and the analogy of a ship being at sea is perfect. I also fully agree on what has been written on the nature of the Eucharist. There is indeed only one truth and not several versions of it. If the church via its long line of saints and bishops is to be spokesperson of Christ and we believe in what Christ taught us as written the new testament, then there is no room for interpretation on such unequivocal issues as the nature of the Eucharist or Marriage, or the Resurrection or any other of the corner stones of Christian faith. These things should not be up for debate, they are truths enshrined in the Gospels and protected for centuries by the catholic church, and are truths that I have never questioned or deviated from. I can Kathleen, relate very well to our friend “Mr Looking Both ways”, particularly as I recall the time I was actively ministering in my parish, and would frequently have to temper my “catholic” practices depending on the service I was assisting at, thus at Choral Eucharist, my prepared intersessions may be formed differently form those I would use at an informal Family Service. Whilst I would comfortably genuflect at the appropriate times and cross myself and show reverence as the crucifer as he processed down the chancel like my friend Johnhenry at the recessional,and invoke the intersession of the saints during prayers, I would tend to curb, what some would think to be excessive reverence at a less formal spoken communion ( where there would be a different congregation ) for fear of causing discomfort or even offence to others who saw the sacrament differently. So what was I doing? failing to be true to my beliefs, failing our Lord ? Failing my church? Failing the congregation? In actual fact, I was trying to be the perfect Anglican or at least a typical Anglican and trying ( and failing ) to be all things to all men, and to minister to a congregation that had over the centuries been allowed to form their own views of Christianity and the church which makes life very difficult for an Anglican priest or minister of any shade within the spectrum. BUT… and here is the crux… as a minister of the Anglican Church from whence do we take our lead ?. We try to be true to what we believe God wants of course, but we are doing Gods work on earth and surely must seek guidance from some authority. One would like to believe that the see of Canterbury might be our safe haven, but when Archbishops are enthroned, they too bring their own brand of churchmanship, and so the result is utter confusion, and as I think Kathleen has mentioned in one of her earlier posts, confusion is of the devil. I have to say to all in here. Being an Anglican is quite hard work. I think one theologian said once that it was a very cerebal church, and one in which you had to work hard to find your faith, perhaps though there should be rather more spirituality. On a final note. and then I am going to go and leave you all in blessed peace…… This is to Johnhenry…. you mentioned at the end of your post about your final visit to the the United Metropolitan united church to find the doors barred. Metaphorically speaking I feel in many ways the same about my own church. Despite my misgivings and struggle, over this issue I am sad to have to say I have little in the way of spiritual guidance within my own parish circle, whilst in the few days I have been in this forum, I have had more kindness, understanding, sympathy, honesty, and dare I say Love ? than I might ever have imagined. Thanks all of you for your help 🙂
Another very good assessment of the situation there John – in particular, when you mention that changing one’s behaviour from one service to another for fear of not offending one of the many varieties of worshipper is indeed emblematic of the ‘perfect Anglican’, and something I can empathise with! I am very glad you have found guidance here that was lacking within your own parish circle, and I can certainly confirm that everything that has been written here is indeed in a spirit of true Christian love, which I am also glad has come across 🙂
Also, Kathleen, hats off for an excellent summary of the key issues in this area, and also for mentioning the very important proviso that the Church is indeed full of sinners as well as all the good stuff! 🙂
Thanks Michael, your words mean a great deal. On a less cerebal and more spiritual note, I hope to be meeting one of the forum member from here next Sunday at the Dome of Home to attend a service there, this very kind person is going to give me the support I need in these very first tentative steps, and I thought today I would take a drive down there to see exactly where I would be going. It has been a beautiful balmy summer afternoon. The church, high on a hill overlooking the river looked splendid. Being high on a hill and somewhat cut off from the busier mainstream streets, it was incredibly quiet, with not a soul to be seen, and so I parked my car and peeped in through the wide open doors. After hovering nervously for a few moments, for fear of bumping into anyone or being asked any awkward questions, I made my way in. I sat for quite a long time at the back of the church, settled my mind, calmed by palpitating heart and took in the splendour of this incredible monument to the glory of God. I prayed ( to the same God I have always prayed to ) and considered those familiar Christian icons, the symbols of faith, Altar, Cross, candles, Stained Glass, Communion Rail, Pews, flowers. All that could be heard was distant birdsong on the summer breeze. The feint scent of incense, candles and old wood, all things familiar and welcoming. I was overcome by the palpable silence and peace of the place, and to be alone in such a place on such a day was indeed special. I prayed at the alter of St Philomena and lit a candle as has always been my custom in any church. I had a good look around and sat a while longer. While I was there a cleric came in, but did not disturb me, for which I was grateful, as this was a very special encounter. On leaving, I met the same cleric at the door, who kindly gave me a brochure. We exchanged a few pleasant words and I left feeling peaceful, calm, inspired, and grateful for what was a lovely and memorable personal experience in God’s house 🙂
John, that is such a wonderful thing to hear, and I am very pleased that you have someone there to ease you in to the whole thing. Your description of the experience that you had today was truly heart-warming, as it spoke of that wonderful feeling of being in an empty church, secluded from the outside world (but with its gentler sounds still trickling in). Your mention of the feint scent of incense, candles and old wood is particularly comforting 🙂
It is especially pleasing to hear the sense of continuity that you had there – a sense of having familiar sensations and experiences not only confirmed but deepened (at least that is how it comes across). It really does sound like a truly lovely experience, and hopefully bodes well for the future 🙂