Monday, October 13, 2014

THANKSGIVING - “On this mountain the Lord of Hosts will make for the people a feast.”

 The annual celebration of Thanksgiving in North America arises from our desire to give thanks to God for providing "the fruits of the earth" as they are termed in the Offertory Prayers at Mass. Our Lord’s parable in the Gospel today (Matthew 22:1-14) is an outline of God’s provision for eternity – our salvation history. 

In the Parable, God is the king (Matthew 5:35), Jesus is the bridegroom (Matthew 9:15), the feast is the salvation that Isaiah prophesies in today’s First Reading. The Israelites are those first invited to the feast by God’s servants, the prophets (see Isaiah 7:25).

For refusing repeated invitations and even killing God's prophets, Israel has suffered; its cities have been conquered by foreign enemies and the nation has, at times, been enslaved.

Through all this, as the Gospel affirms here and elsewhere, God has been sending new servants and now apostles, to call not only Israel, but all people – the good and bad alike – to the feast of the Kingdom of God. 

This is an image of the Church.  In other parables, Jesus speaks of a field sown with both wheat and weeds, or the Church as a fishing net that catches good and bad fish. (Matthew 13:24-43, 47-50)
In the parable today, all are invited, but many reject, ignore or scoff at the grace of the King who invites them.  What do we make of this?

Two things at least:  Salvation is intended for all.  Secondly, we must choose to accept the invitation to grace.  What we need to show acceptance is a wedding garment – a thankful and responsive heart.

We have all been called to this great feast of love and thanksgiving for it is in the Church, where, as Isaiah foretold, the veil that once separated the nations from the covenant of Israel has been rent, torn open, the dividing wall of enmity has been torn down by grace through the saving blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:11-14).

This means that all people are equal in the sight of God and so all are invited to the feast, but we must accept and prepare for the feast – put on a wedding garment i.e. present ourselves as guests – those who have received and responded to the gracious invitation of God by both the conformity of our lives to the grace of God and our acceptance of other guests who are there by the same grace which comes from God and not by any merit that we may think we have.

St. Francois de Laval (bishop) and St. Marie de L’Incarnation (educator) were remembered in Rome by Pope Francis at a Thanksgiving Mass. They are amongst the messengers and guests of God’s grace.

As Psalm 23 affirms the Lord has led us to the feast, refreshing our souls, spreading the table before us in the Eucharist – the true feast of Thanksgiving. And St. Paul tells us in today’s Epistle with the glorious riches of Christ, we will find supplied whatever we need – both a wedding garment and the grace to love all others who are also invited to the Feast.

In the rich food of Christ’s banquet, he offers us the bread of his own body and the choice wine – his blood. Here we have a foretaste of the eternal banquet in the heavenly Jerusalem, when God will destroy death forever (Hebrews 12:22-24). Are we ready, dressed for the feast, clothed in the garment of righteousness? (Revelation 19:8)

“On this mountain the Lord of Hosts will make for the people a feast.”

Isaiah 25:6-10 Psalm 23:1-6  Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20  Matthew 22:1-14

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Newman's Second Spring

The seasons turn and so, once again this October 9, we celebrate Blessed John Henry Newman. 

As Fall advances, the days shorten in the Northern Hemisphere as the year nears its end. Newman deeply sensed an ending as he closed the door to his Anglican past and brought with him his English and Anglican sensibilities into the full communion of the Catholic Church in October 1845. 

In God's economy, as in the natural order, Fall is followed by Winter and then comes Spring.

This past Spring as it slowly dawned in the northern climes, I re-read, Ian Kerr's magisterial biography of Blessed John Henry Newman and was made more aware than ever of the long, cold, waiting winter that Newman faced in many aspects of his life and ministry; in particular the cultural and social winter he experienced from 1845 well into the 1870s.  

Kerr's work concludes with Newman's recognition by Pope Leo XIII. He was finally created a Cardinal when in his 80s.
Pope Leo was someone Newman had met years before. With the creation of John Henry Newman as a Cardinal Priest, Catholics finally began to understand that Newman was not a theological liberal come into the Catholic Church to disrupt it. In fact, he wrote and fought against liberalism and secularism in Britain while at the same time insisting that the laity find their role and voice in the reception of doctrine. His efforts to further the cause Catholic education of the laity were starkly opposed to the ideas of Gladstone and others who were paving the way for further secularization.
St. Mary's, Oscott

Newman gave his famous "Second Spring" sermon of July 13, 1852, in St. Mary's, Oscott, at the first Provincial Synod of Westminster. What he called "The Second Spring" referred to the re-establishment of Catholic bishops and dioceses in England after 300 years of expulsion which had followed over 1000 years of Catholic faith and practice throughout the British Isles from the fourth to the sixteenth centuries.
             Newman and his Personal Oratory near Birmingham

He selected a passage from the Song of Songs which was later so beautifully set to music as one of the 'Lady Motets' by the great Canadian Anglo-Catholic composer Healey Willan: "Rise Up My Love, My Fair One'.

"Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come. For the winter is now past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers have appeared in our land." Cant., ii. 10-12.

In his stunning prose, Newman begins by affirming the the message of the resurrection implicit in nature  . . .

"The sun sinks to rise again; the day is swallowed up in the gloom of the night, to be born out of it, as fresh as if it had never been quenched. Spring passes into summer, and through summer and autumn into winter, only the more surely, by its own ultimate return, to triumph over that grave, towards which it resolutely hastened from its first hour. We mourn over the blossoms of May, because they are to wither; but we know, withal, that May is one day to have its revenge upon November, by the revolution of that solemn circle which never stops—which teaches us in our height of hope, ever to be sober, and in our depth of desolation, never to despair . . ."

On the human and moral level, he continues . . .

"So is it, too, with our moral being, a far higher and diviner portion of our natural constitution; it begins with life, it ends with what is worse than the mere loss of life, with a living death. 

How beautiful is the human heart, when it puts forth its first leaves, and opens and rejoices in its spring-tide. Fair as may be the bodily form, fairer far, in its green foliage and bright blossoms, is natural virtue. It blooms in the young, like some rich flower, so delicate, so fragrant, and so dazzling. 

Generosity and lightness of heart and amiableness, the confiding spirit, the gentle temper, the elastic cheerfulness, the open hand, the pure affection, the noble aspiration, the heroic resolve, the romantic pursuit, the love in which self has no part,—are not these beautiful? and are they not dressed up and set forth for admiration in their best shapes, in tales and in poems? and ah! what a prospect of good is there! who could believe that it is to fade! and yet, as night follows upon day, as decrepitude follows upon health, so surely are failure, and overthrow, and annihilation, the issue of this natural virtue, if time only be allowed to it to run its course . . .

. . . Such is man in his own nature, and such, too, is he in his works. The noblest efforts of his genius, the conquests he has made, the doctrines he has originated, the nations he has civilized, the states he has created, they outlive himself, they outlive him by many centuries, but they tend to an end, and that end is dissolution. Powers of the world, sovereignties, dynasties, sooner or later come to nought; they have their fatal hour. The Roman conqueror shed tears over Carthage, for in the destruction of the rival city he discerned too truly an augury of the fall of Rome; and at length, with the weight and the responsibilities, the crimes and the glories, of centuries upon centuries, the Imperial City fell.

Thus man and all his works are mortal; they die, and they have no power of renovation . . ."

Then, with unquenchable joy Newman proclaims that something new is springing forth in the land:

"We should judge rightly in our curiosity about a phenomenon like this; it must be a portentous event, and it is. It is an innovation, a miracle, I may say, in the course of human events. The physical world revolves year by year, and begins again; but the political order of things does not renew itself, does not return; it continues, but it proceeds; there is no retrogression. This is so well understood by men of the day, that with them progress is idolized as another name for good. The past never returns—it is never good;—if we are to escape existing ills, it must be by going forward. 

The past is out of date; the past is dead. As well may the dead live to us, well may the dead profit us, as the past return. This, then, is the cause of this national transport, this national cry, which encompasses us. The past has returned, the dead lives. Thrones are overturned, and are never restored; States live and die, and then are matter only for history. Babylon was great, and Tyre, and Egypt, and Nineve, and shall never be great again. The English Church was, and the English Church was not, and the English Church is once again. This is the portent, worthy of a cry. It is the coming in of a Second Spring; it is a restoration in the moral world, such as that which yearly takes place in the physical."

Finally, he paints a word picture of the resurrected Catholic Church in England as a cathedral with its cloister, schools and residences built on a hill:

"And there on that high spot, far from the haunts of men, yet in the very centre of the island, a large edifice, or rather pile of edifices, appears with many fronts, and courts, and long cloisters and corridors, and story upon story. And there it rises, under the invocation of the same sweet and powerful name which has been our strength and consolation in the Valley. I look more attentively at that building, and I see it is fashioned upon that ancient style of art which brings back the past, which had seemed to be perishing from off the face of the earth, or to be preserved only as a curiosity, or to be imitated only as a fancy. I listen, and I hear the sound of voices, grave and musical, renewing the old chant, with which Augustine greeted Ethelbert in the free air upon the Kentish strand.

It comes from a long procession, and it winds along the cloisters. Priests and Religious, theologians from the schools, and canons from the Cathedral, walk in due precedence. And then there comes a vision of well-nigh twelve mitred heads; and last I see a Prince of the Church, in the royal dye of empire and of martyrdom, a pledge to us from Rome of Rome's unwearied love, a token that that goodly company is firm in Apostolic faith and hope. 

And the shadow of the Saints is there;—St. Benedict is there, speaking to us by the voice of bishop and of priest, and counting over the long ages through which he has prayed, and studied, and laboured; there, too, is St. Dominic's white wool, which no blemish can impair, no stain can dim:—and if St. Bernard be not there, it is only that his absence may make him be remembered more. And the princely patriarch, St. Ignatius, too, the St. George of the modern world, with his chivalrous lance run through his writhing foe, he, too, sheds his blessing upon that train. And others, also, his equals or his juniors in history, whose pictures are above our altars, or soon shall be, the surest proof that the Lord's arm has not waxen short, nor His mercy failed,—they, too, are looking down from their thrones on high upon the throng. And so that high company moves on into the holy place; and there, with august rite and awful sacrifice, inaugurates the great act which brings it thither. What is that act? it is the first synod of a new Hierarchy; it is the resurrection of the Church."

So we latter-day Catholics in North America with roots in the ancient English Church are coming through our own winter, and we see signs of Spring across our own vast continent as the seeds of the Personal Ordinariates begin to grow.  And so we take heart from our great father in the Faith, and, as we  hope, some day soon to be recognized as a Doctor of the Church: Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Synod of Bishops on the Family 2014

There is much speculation and not a little prediction going on with regard to the Synod of Bishops now underway in Rome. Our first priority is to pray for the bishops that God's Holy Spirit will guide them in this important advisory meeting to shape the approaches that the Church will take in pastoral ministry to families around the world as part of the New Evangelization.
The Personal Ordinariates have a great concern for this outreach to families given our mandate to reach to individuals and families who may have celebrated Catholic baptism but are uncatechized.  
Our mandate at STM includes offering families through BALDWIN ACADEMY assistance with their schooling by providing tutoring and instruction in choral music. Naturally, our hope is to nurture children and their families in the fulness of the Catholic Faith.
Given these considerations it is important to be clear about what this synod and the upcoming October 2015 Synod on the Family may accomplish.  This is outlined in a recent thoughtful homily by Fr James Bradley in which he says:  
"An unfortunate and misleading media storm surrounds this sacred event, one which has already inflicted untold damage on the faith of not a few of the faithful. It is important for us to note, and to keep firmly in our minds, two salient points to which we may wish to refer back in the coming days.
First, it is important to note that there can be no contradiction between sacred scripture and the Church’s teaching. The Church, as the mystical body of Christ on earth, continues the mission of Christ in the world today, rooted in the faith of the apostles. Thus it cannot be said that the Church’s doctrinal teaching and the disciplines which flow directly from it are distinct from, still less opposed to, the message of the gospel. Nor can it be said that the scriptures, interpreted by the Church in a consistent and unambiguous way under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, or the Church’s doctrine that flows from them, is in some way opposed to reality of Christ’s actions or his message of hope and salvation to all.
Secondly, it is important to note that there can be no contradiction between justice and mercy. Any parallel between true justice and true mercy is a false parallel, at odds with the authentic person of Christ in whom, truly, ‘Mercy and truth are met together: righteousness and peace have kissed each other’ (Ps. 85: 10). Indeed, it is Christ who gives us both the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount. As Pope Benedict XVI reminded us in the opening words of his encyclical letter Caritas in veritate, ‘Charity in truth [. . .] is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity’ (CiV 1). True and pastoral care then, whatever situation befalls a person, is found not in avoiding the struggles of the cross but in embracing them in the life of Christ—in his passion and death—in order to share more fully in his resurrection and so to receive the balm of his mercy, and thus the fullness of life. As Pope Saint John Paul II teaches, ‘Human freedom and God’s law are not in opposition; on the contrary, they appeal one to the other’ (VS 17).
It is in this context that the third Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops meets this week. Not to discuss, as one newspaper put it, ‘whether the church can change its doctrines’, but to come to a deeper and more profound knowledge of Christ and the life he demands of those, of us, who have chosen to leave everything and to follow him (cf. Lk. 5: 11)."
You may want to look at the entire homily at:  Fr. Bradley's Homily
Some will consider adding to our prayer, a pilgrimage to The 8th World Day of Families, to be held in Philadelphia from September 22-27, 2015 setting the stage for the General Synod on the Family, Pontificium Concilium pro Familia, Rome, October 2015.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Whatsoever is true and the Family of God - A Homily for Trinity 16 A

TRINITY 16 (Pr. 27 A Or Time)

“whatsoever is true, whatsoever is honest, whatsoever is just, whatsoever is pure, whatsoever is lovely, whatsoever is of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things.”
                                                                                                                       Phil. 4

In the Gospel, Jesus uses the Old Testament symbol of the vineyard to teach us about Israel, the Church, the human family and the kingdom of God.

The parable of the Vineyard of God in the Gospel acc. to St. Matthew depicts the owner as God and the house of Israel as the vineyard. A cherished vine, Israel was plucked from Egypt and transplanted into a fertile land specially prepared by God, hedged about by the city walls of Jerusalem and focused upon the sacred Temple dedicated to worship. Equally, the vineyard is the world, which God has given to us.

In the parable the vineyard produced no good grapes for wine, the wine that is a symbol for the joy of life God wills for all people.  So the vineyard was overrun by invaders, as Isaiah foresaw in the First Reading.

Jesus picks up the story where Isaiah leaves off, even using Isaiah’s words to describe the vineyard’s wine press, hedge, and watchtower. Israel’s leaders, the tenants in the parable, had learned nothing from Isaiah or from Israel’s history. Instead of producing good fruits, they expressed a kind of entitlement and ownership without reference to the fact that all we have is a gift from God and is meant for the good of the whole human family. We must treat all with justice - “whatsoever is just”.

The tenants killed the owner’s servants, the prophets, sent to remind us of our dependence upon the grace and love of God. In a dark foreshadowing of the attack upon the human family and of his own crucifixion outside Jerusalem, Jesus says the tenants’ final outrage is to seize the owner’s son, and to kill him outside the vineyard walls – an offense to God, to the human family and to the Kingdom of God. Because of this, the vineyard, which Jesus calls the kingdom of God, is taken away and given to new tenants.

Each person and family is a branch in the Lord’s vineyard, part of a family grafted onto the true vine of Christ (John 15:1-8), called to bear the fruits of righteousness in Christ (Philippians 1:11). We are meant to be the “first fruits” of a new creation (James 1:18), realizing that all we have is a gift from God and is meant to be shared with others for the good of the whole human family.

We need to take care that we don’t let ourselves or our families be overgrown with the thorns and briers of anxiety, entitlement, fear or violence. Today’s Epistle teaches us that together we need to fill our hearts and minds with godly thoughts which will lead to virtuous deeds, rejoicing always that the Lord is near in . . . .“whatsoever is true, whatsoever is honest, whatsoever is just, whatsoever is pure, whatsoever is lovely, whatsoever is of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things.”             

                                   Isaiah 5:1-7
Psalm 80:9, 12-16, 19-20
Philippians 4:6-9
Matthew 21:33-43

Edward King, Ritualist Saint

Bishop Edward King, Lincoln
I am often given to wondering how some of my favourite Anglo-Catholic "saints" would respond to the call to unity in the Church today in light of the changes being mandated in faith and morals in many parts of the Anglican Communion and the offer of reception into full communion with the See of Peter represented by Anglicanorum Coetibus.

One of the luminaries who intrigued me in  my youth, along with missionary bishops like Frank Weston and Trevor Huddleston or scholars like Eric Mascall, Austin Farrer and Dom Gregory Dix was Bishop Edward King of Lincoln. 

A man of deep prayer, scholarship and devotion to the Church as the Body of Christ, Bishop King was a model pastor devoted to the care of his people.

It is almost beyond imagining that he was caught up in law suits for such Catholic practices as placing candles on the altar, facing "eastward" (that is, toward the altar) and mixing a little water with the wine in the chalice understood as a symbol of human nature being incorporated into the Divine Nature as we are united with Christ through the Sacrament. 

Remarkably it was objected that he used the Agnus Dei ("O Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us") as a hymn just before the receiving of Holy Communion.  

Finally, he was also charged with making the sign of the Cross when blessing the congregation. 

None of these practices is controversial today, but they were then thought by some to be signs of inclination to Catholicism.  King was tried by a Church Court presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury. His ritual practices were, of course, signs of a much deeper Catholic theology at work in the Anglican Communion of the time.

In our day these and many other Catholic practices are present in the worship of many Protestant churches but the Catholic doctrine and theology that they are meant to express is most often absent.
A statue of Bishop King in full pontificals which were rare in his day in the C of E.
Would Bishop King and others find his beliefs represented in the Ordinariate? Almost certainly he would. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014


Excerpted from the website of the British Ordinariate

An official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith who has been closely involved with the Holy See's Ordinariate project since its conception has described the Ordinariate as "ecumenism in the front row".

Monsignor Steven Lopes, is a member of the commission charged with developing the official liturgical texts for the Ordinariates, He made the comment at a plenary session for the clergy of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham on Thursday June 19 in address. 


He told the seventy or so clergy who attended the session at St Patrick's Church, Soho Square, London: "the Ordinariate is ecumenism. It has at its heart the fundamental principle for the ecumenical movement: that the unity of faith which is at the heart of the communion of the Church can exist in diversity of expression". This message, Mgr Lopes told the clergy , "must be explained and amplified" every time the opportunity arose to do so.

Monsignor's Lopes' comments came during a wide-ranging question and answer session with the clergy at the plenary session. Among other issues raised were the question of married clergy and why they had to be treated as an anomaly in the light of Catholic tradition and practice, and how the Ordinariate laity might be reaffirmed for the courage of their spiritual journey.

The question and answer session followed a presentation from Mgr Lopes on liturgical theology, in which he concentrated on the mysteries of the Transfiguration and the Passion and how they could be used in an interpretive way in the celebration of the liturgy and the sacraments. 

He spoke of the "tremendous contribution" the Ordinariate was making to liturgy by preserving for Catholic worship rich elements of Anglican spiritual patrimony, and of the "joy and satisfaction" that came from celebrating the Mass beautifully. But he said it was important not to miss the fact, "whilst going for the glory" that the Mass was a sacrifice, with the Cross of Christ at its heart. Remembering that, he said, should help priests who had high liturgical ideals to celebrate the Mass "at those times when the circumstances for doing so might be less than ideal".

The plenary session was chaired by Monsignor Andrew Burnham, Assistant to the Ordinary. Mgr Burnham announced that the guest speaker at the next Ordinariate plenary, in October, would be the Anglican Bishop, Michael Nazir-Ali, formerly Bishop of Rochester, who would speak on global Anglicanism.

It was also announced that Mgr Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter in the United States and Mgr Harry Entwistle, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia, would visit London next year and attend the plenary session on 12 February. This will be the second time the three ordinaries have met; the first was in Rome in February this year.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

OCTOBER MUSIC - ST THOMAS MORE CHURCH, Carlton at Sherbourne, Toronto


Oct. 5
Mass setting: Sumsion, Communion Service in F
Motet: Palestrina, Ego Sum Panis Vivus

Oct. 12
Mass setting: Mozart, Spatzen Messe
Motet: Britten, Jubilate Deo

Oct 19
Mass setting: Ager, Missa Brevis No. 4
Motet: Hassler, Cantate Domino

Oct. 26 
Palestrina, Missa Brevis in F
Mass setting: Wood, Oculi Omnium