Wednesday 25 January 2012

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: 25 January Overall Intention

The Unity of all Humanity in the Charity and Truth of Christ
Father, we pray for the Unity of Christians. Forgive us the sin which separates us and maintains divisions among us. May your Spirit penetrate all our souls and draw us closer to Christ in holiness. Today we pray for the unity of all humanity in the charity and truth of Christ. Give all human beings, your children, an ever greater holiness; and lead us along your path, to unity in the love and truth of Christ.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Paul Couturier, Apostle of Unity

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: 24 January Intention

The Sanctification of People in other Faiths
Father, we pray for the Unity of Christians. Forgive us the sin which separates us and maintains divisions among us. May your Spirit penetrate all our souls and draw us closer to Christ in holiness. Give us an ever greater holiness and lead us along your path, to unity in the love and truth of Christ. We pray today for people of other faiths. May we and they be enlightened by your Spirit, walk before you with a sincere heart, be made more perfect witnesses to your love and advance on the way of salvation.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

See also: Westminster Diocese Interfaith & Interreligious Dialogue
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Paul Couturier, Apostle of Unity

Monday 23 January 2012

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: 23 January Intention

The Sanctification of the Jewish People
Father, we pray for the Unity of Christians. Forgive us the sin which separates us and maintains divisions among us. May your Spirit penetrate all our souls and draw us closer to Christ in holiness. Give us an ever greater holiness and lead us along your path, to unity in the love and truth of Christ. We pray today for the Jewish people. By faith may they continue with us to advance in love of your name and attain the fullness of redemption.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

See also: Holocaust Memorial Day, 27 January
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Paul Couturier, Apostle of Unity

Sunday 22 January 2012

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: 22 January Intention

The Sanctification of all Protestant Christians
Father, we pray for the Unity of Christians. Forgive us the sin which separates us and maintains divisions among us. May your Spirit penetrate all our souls and draw us closer to Christ in holiness. Today we pray for all Protestant and Pentecostal Christians. Give Evangelical, Reformed and Pentecostal Christians, with all Christians together, an ever greater holiness and lead us all along your path, to unity in the love and truth of Christ.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.  

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Paul Couturier, Apostle of Unity

Saturday 21 January 2012

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: 21 January Intention

The Sanctification of Anglican Christians
Father, we pray for the Unity of Christians. Forgive us the sin which separates us and maintains divisions among us. May your Spirit penetrate all our souls and draw us closer to Christ in holiness. Today we pray for all Anglican Christians. Give Anglicans and all Christians an ever greater holiness and lead us all along your path, to unity in the love and truth of Christ.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Paul Couturier, Apostle of Unity

Friday 20 January 2012

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: 20 January Intention

The Sanctification of Orthodox Christians
Father, we pray for the Unity of Christians. Forgive us the sin which separates us and maintains divisions among us. May your Spirit penetrate all our souls and draw us closer to Christ in holiness. Today we pray for all Orthodox Christians. Give Orthodox and all Christians an ever greater holiness and lead us all along your path, to unity in the love and truth of Christ.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Paul Couturier, Apostle of Unity

Thursday 19 January 2012

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: 19 January Intention

The Sanctification of Catholic Christians
Father, we pray for the Unity of Christians. Forgive us the sin which separates us and maintains divisions among us. May your Spirit penetrate all our souls and draw us closer to Christ in holiness. Today we pray for all Catholic Christians. Give Catholics and all Christians together an ever greater holiness and lead us all along your path, to unity in the love and truth of Christ.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.  

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Paul Couturier, Apostle of Unity

Wednesday 18 January 2012

The Holy Father at the Opening of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

At the General Audience on Wednesday, 18 January 2012:

Dear brothers and sisters,
Today marks the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which for more than a century has been celebrated by Christians of all Churches and ecclesial Communities, in order to invoke that extraordinary gift for which the Lord Jesus Himself prayed during the Last Supper, before His Passion: “that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:21). The practice of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was introduced in 1908 by Father Paul Wattson, founder of an Anglican religious community that subsequently entered the Catholic Church. The initiative received the blessing of Pope St. Pius X and was then promoted by Pope Benedict XV, who encouraged its celebration throughout the Church with the Brief, Romanorum Pontificum, promulgated Feb. 25, 1916.

The octave of prayer was developed and perfected in the 1930s by Abbé Paul Couturier of Lyon, who promoted prayer “for the unity of the Church as Christ wills, and in accordance with the instruments He wills.” In his later writings, Abbé Couturier sees this Week as a way of allowing the prayer of Christ to “enter into and penetrate the entire Christian Body”; it must grow until it becomes “an immense, unanimous cry of the whole People of God” who ask God for this great gift. And it is precisely during the Week of Christian Unity that the impetus given by the Second Vatican Council toward seeking full communion among all of Christ’s disciples, each year finds one of its most efficacious expressions. This spiritual gathering, which unites Christians of all traditions, increases our awareness of the fact that the unity to which we tend will not only be the result of our efforts, but will rather be a gift received from above, a gift for which we must constantly pray.

Each year, the booklets for the Week of Prayer are prepared by an ecumenical group from a different region of the world. I would like to pause to consider this point. This year, the texts were proposed by a mixed group comprised of representatives of the Catholic Church and of the Polish Ecumenical Council, which includes the country’s various Churches and ecclesial Communities. The documentation was then reviewed by a committee made up of members of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity and of the Faith and Order Commission of the Council of Churches. This work, carried out together in two stages, is also a sign of the desire for unity that animates Christians, and of the awareness that prayer is the primary way of attaining full communion, since it is in being united with the Lord that we move toward unity.

The theme of the Week this year - as we heard - is taken from the First Letter to the Corinthians: “We Will All Be Changed By the Victory of Our Lord Jesus Christ” - His victory will transform us. And this theme was suggested by the large ecumenical Polish group I just mentioned, which - in reflecting on their own experience as a nation -- wanted to underscore how strong a support the Christian faith is in the midst of trial and upheaval, like those that have characterized Poland’s history. After ample discussion, a theme was chosen that focuses on the transforming power of faith in Christ, particularly in light of the importance it has for our prayer for the visible unity of Christ’s Body, the Church. This reflection was inspired by the words of St. Paul who, addressing himself to the Church of Corinth, speaks about the perishable nature of what belongs to our present life - which is also marked by the experience of the “defeat” that comes from sin and death - compared to what brings us Christ’s victory over sin and death in His paschal mystery.

The particular history of the Polish nation, which knew times of democratic coexistence and of religious liberty - as in the 16th century - has been marked in recent centuries by invasions and defeat, but also by the constant struggle against oppression and by the thirst for freedom. All of this led the ecumenical group to reflect more deeply on the true meaning of “victory” - what is victory? - and “defeat.” Compared with “victory” understood in terms of triumphalism, Christ suggests to us a very different way, one that does not pass by way of force and power. Indeed, He affirms: “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35). Christ speaks of a victory through suffering love, through mutual service, help, new hope and concrete comfort given to the least, to the forgotten, to those who are rejected. For all Christians, the highest expression of this humble service is Jesus Christ Himself - the total gift He makes of Himself, the victory of His love over death on the Cross, which shines in the light of Easter morning.

We can take part in this transforming “victory” if we allow ourselves to be transformed by God - but only if we work for the conversion of our lives, and if this transformation leads to conversion. This is the reason why the Polish ecumenical group considered particularly fitting for their own reflection the words of St. Paul: “We will all be changed by the victory of Christ, Our Lord” (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:51-58).

The full and visible unity of Christians for which we long demands that we allow ourselves to be ever more perfectly transformed and conformed to the image of Christ. The unity for which we pray requires interior conversion, both communal and personal. It is not simply a matter of kindness and cooperation; above all, we must strengthen our faith in God, in the God of Jesus Christ, who has spoken to us and who made Himself one of us; we must enter into new life in Christ, which is our true and definitive victory; we must open ourselves to one another, cultivating all the elements of that unity that God has preserved for us and gives to us ever anew; we must feel the urgency of bearing witness before the men of our times to the living God, who made Himself known in Christ.

The Second Vatican Council put the ecumenical pursuit at the center of the Church’s life and work: “The Sacred Council exhorts all the Catholic faithful to recognize the signs of the times and to take an active and intelligent part in the work of ecumenism” (Unitatis redintegratio, 4). Blessed John Paul II stressed the essential nature of this commitment, saying: “This unity, which the Lord has bestowed on his Church and in which he wishes to embrace all people, is not something added on, but stands at the very heart of Christ’s mission. Nor is it some secondary attribute of the community of his disciples. Rather, it belongs to the very essence of this community (Ut unum sint, 9). The ecumenical task is therefore a responsibility of the whole Church and of all the baptized, who must make the partial, already existing communion between Christians grow into full communion in truth and charity. Therefore, prayer for unity is not limited to this Week of Prayer but rather must become an integral part of our prayer, of the life of prayer of all Christians, in every place and in every time, especially when people of different traditions meet and work together for the victory, in Christ, over all that is sin, evil, injustice, and that violates human dignity.

From the time the ecumenical movement was born over a century ago, there has always been a clear recognition of the fact that the lack of unity among Christians prevents the Gospel from being more effectively proclaimed, since it jeopardizes our credibility. How can we give a convincing witness if we are divided? Certainly, as regards the fundamental truths of the faith, much more unites us than divides us. But divisions remain, and they concern even various practical and ethical questions - causing confusion and distrust, and weakening our ability to hand on Christ’s saving Word. In this regard, we do well to remember the words of Blessed John Paul II, who in the Encyclical Ut unum sint, speaks of the damage caused to Christian witness and to the proclamation of the Gospel by the lack of unity (cf. no. 98,99). This is a great challenge for the new evangelization, which can be more fruitful if all Christians together announce the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and give a common response to the spiritual thirst of our times.

The Church’s journey, like that of peoples’, is in the hands of the Risen Christ, who is victorious over the death and injustice that He bore and suffered on behalf of all mankind. He makes us sharers in His victory. Only He is capable of transforming us and making us - from weak and hesitant men - into strong and courageous people working for good. Only He can save us from the negative consequences of our divisions. Dear brothers and sisters, I invite everyone to be more intensely united in prayer during this Week for Unity, so that common witness, solidarity and collaboration may grow among Christians, as we await the glorious day when together we may profess the faith handed down by the Apostles, and together celebrate the Sacraments of our transformation in Christ.

By his teaching, his example and his paschal mystery, the Lord has shown us the way to a victory obtained not by power, but by love and concern for those in need. Faith in Christ and interior conversion, both individual and communal, must constantly accompany our prayer for Christian unity. During this Week of Prayer, let us ask the Lord in a particular way to strengthen the faith of all Christians, to change our hearts and to enable us to bear united witness to the Gospel. In this way we will contribute to the new evangelization and respond ever more fully to the spiritual hunger of the men and women of our time.

© Copyright 2012 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Solemn Evensong: for the First Anniverary of the Ordinariate: Some Patrimonial Reflections

Fr Mark Woodruff writes:

Just after the New Year, I went to the Cotswolds to visit a retired evangelical Anglican archdeacon friend of mine. Without hesitation I would say that he is western Catholic, a true churchman, to his finger tips. The retreats for priests he used to give were pearls of the Wisdom of the Scriptures and the Church’s Tradition he had received in the Church of England and was passing on to those who had ears to hear. One of the things that has united the Anglican archdeacon and the Catholic priest, grateful for his own roots and formation in the Church of England, is our love for the rites of the Book of Common Prayer, with its daily rhythm of Morning and Evening Prayer, the pastoral offices and the “noble simplicity” of its Office of Holy Communion. Once, he asked Graham Leonard, the retired bishop of London, whether there was anything he regretted about becoming a Roman Catholic. “I don’t regret anything for a single minute; but the one thing I really do miss is Evensong. We have nothing quite like it.” My archdeacon friend said he had always regarded Evensong as a perfect tool for pastoral mission, with its near perfect structure of reverent beauty, music, preaching, Scriptures and prayer, for drawing in those who were moved to worship but not yet ready for the sacramental life. “The Catholic Church should really give some thought to adopting Anglican Evensong,“ he said. “But it has!” I replied; “and I am going to Choral Evensong as a service fully of the Catholic Church next weekend.” He was as moved as I was to think that this peerless liturgy, increasingly difficult to find even in Anglican parishes, has been embraced as a treasure by the Catholic Church from the Anglican tradition, as a foretaste of the unity of all Christendom in which all our churches will own the gifts given to each other for the Universal Church.

18 years ago I gave away my surplices, scarves and hood to friends, as I prepared to enter into the fullness ofcommunion in the Catholic Church. I was one of many who was told by Cardinal Hume to “bring your Anglicanism with you”; but there were some aspects of it that lamentably I was leaving behind - “friends I have loved long since and lost awhile,” you might say. One of these was classic Anglican worship. From now on, I participated in it as an ecumenical guest. It was my tradition, yet it wasn’t. As a former Anglican cathedral precentor, this was something I loved inside out, but could never really contribute to or participate in from my place within Christ’s Church as a Catholic. Until now.

On Sunday, I joined over a dozen priests, his excellency the Ordinary of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, Bishop Peter Elliot of Melbourne, Australia, the Abbot and several of the brethren of Farnborough, a dozen Knights of Malta and a congregation of hundreds for Solemn Evensong at the Westminster diocese’s Church of St James, Spanish Place in London to give thanks for the first year of life of the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham. St James’ was the perfect setting. It may have a venerable history as the Chapel of the Embassy of Spain in origin; but it is also a neo-Gothic English church in the Early English style (with some transitional-Norman features) and you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a corner of Westminster Abbey, Salisbury Cathedral or Christ Church, Dublin. It felt like this was Anglican Evensong on home territory.


As the liturgy progressed, a profound sense visited me, that something that I had laid down for the sake of Catholic communion was being restored to me. It took me back to my teenage membership of the choir at St Paul’s Marton in Lancashire, which somehow integrated a Roman-oriented feel to the conduct of worship with the traditional services and music of the Church of England – Ireland in F, and Stanford in B flat (under the gently but impassioned direction of Mr Ray Fishwick).I had suggested to Fr Christopher Pearson of the Ordinariate, who organised the celebration, that to be truly Anglican he and his brethren should wear surplice, scarf and hood. Of course, not many of them had either possessed or used this vesture in their Anglican days. So, here we were, nearly forty years later, processing into Evensong in cassock and cotta to the strains of Anglican choral music, just like Fr John Cayton and Fr Maurice Haigh in Marton of yore. Of course this was Solemn Evensong and it struck me how like in dignity and simplicity the ceremony was when I was a student at the College of the Resurrection at Mirfield. I was deeply inspired; I knew every word by heart and every note of the music, down to the harmony of the chants and hymns. Afterwards, speaking to seasoned Catholics, to generous Anglican friends who had come specially - in support and out of affinity – and to many newly made friends among the faithful and clergy of the Ordinariate, we discussed time and again the point that had dawned on us: that there was nothing distinctive of Anglicanism that could not be lived in communion with the Catholic Church as it now is. Nothing that is true of the classic Anglican tradition, its orthodox teaching and its liturgical and spiritual treasury, requires separation for protecting its integrity or principles.

Prior to Evensong, the organist, Iestyn Evans, played Herbert Howells’ Psalm Prelude Set One, Number One (opus 32). This is perhaps the most famous, soul-searching and best loved of his organ pieces. Howells’ music for the organ and the services of the Anglican Church has such a distinctive voice that, beyond the cornerstone laid by the music of Charles Villiers Stanford, it has set the tone for what we now instinctively recognise as the characteristic style of Anglican liturgical singing and organ improvisation. He was a student of Stanford, Hubert Parry and Charles Wood at the Royal College of Music, following earlier training under Herbert Brewer at Gloucester Cathedral. It is a nice coincidence that one of his earliest pieces of liturgical music, the Mass in the Dorian Mode, was first performed at Westminster Cathedral soon after he arrived at the College, thanks to the interest of Richard Runciman Terry, the cathedral’s great first director of music. The first set of Psalm Preludes dates from 1915-16; and the first piece especially betrays the profound effect on him of Vaughan Williams and his Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis that had so moved him at the 1910 Three Choirs Festival. Dating from the First World War, each Psalm Prelude in this set, arguably, should be considered alongside the war poets, with the events at Ypres, Gallipoli and Verdun. Set One, Number One is a meditation on Psalm 34.6: This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.

Then came George Thalben-Ball’s Elegy. Thalben Ball was a fellow student of Howells’, a prodigious pianist, who gave the first English performance of Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto at the Royal College of Music at the age of 19. He became organist of the Temple Church, taking its choir to international fame with the recording of Mendelssohn’s Hear my Prayer and its solo, O for the wings of a dove. The BBC’s daily service on the radio during the Second World War came from the Temple and the Elegy began as an improvisation when the service ended a few minutes earlier than expected one day. It was an immediate “hit” with the public.

Then the procession of the Ordinary and other clergy made its way into church with Sir Hubert Parry’s Introit for the Coronation of King Edward VII in 1902, I was glad when they said unto me, We will go into the house of the Lord (Psalm 122, Laetatus sum). The striking introduction and the interplay of choirs and organ or brass fanfares were actually written for a new version, for the coronation of King George V. Parry’s original was more reverential in tone. The rewritten piece, however, has been used time and again to match national and local services of joyful celebration ever since. It is known to be a great favourite of the Prince of Wales’, who urged it be used for the Bridal Procession at the marriage of his son, now HRH the Duke of Cambridge, to Kate Middleton.

The responses (which are vestiges of the recitation of Psalm 51 (the Miserere) at a dawn vigil and Psalm 70 (Deus in adiutorium) as an introductory psalm at offices) were sung to the setting by Bernard Rose written for Magdalen College, Oxford (which will figure again later). Since publication in 1961, their popularity has never waned. Strangely, they were intoned by a member of the choir, not the Officiant or another precenting priest.

Psalms 114 (In exitu Israel) and 115 (Non nobis, Domine) followed, sung exquisitely to familiar Anglican chants. The choice was a perfect match for the words, as the writer cannot remember which chant was used: possibly the Reverend Sir Frederick Gore Ouseley’s double chant in A flat. If so, Ouseley is an embodiment of the nineteenth century nineteenth century English church music and Anglo-Catholic patrimony. A baronet, he was ordained to serve as curate at St Paul’s, Knightsbridge, and its foundation to exemplify the ideals of the Tractarian and Ritualist revival, St Barnabas’, Pimlico. He rose to be Professor of Music at Oxford and founded St Michael’s College, Tenbury Wells, his school for the renewal and revival of English choral church music. His chants and other settings of the Anglican liturgy were thus written to bring that revival about. His most famous student and disciple was Sir John Stainer, his organist at St Michael’s for a while, who not only eventually succeeded him as Professor of Music, but also raised standards in cathedral worship from his influential posts as organist at Magdalen College, Oxford and then at St Paul’s Cathedral. His researches into early music began to establish in English liturgy the treasures of Tudor composers, unheard for centuries. He was also a champion of the adaptation and revival of plainsong in Anglican worship. Thus he was at the heart of a movement, led from the cathedrals he influenced, to bring high aspirations even into small parishes for excellent choral leadership of psalm-singing, hymns and anthems.

In a slight departure from the order of Evensong, the lessons were introduced and ended in the same way as in the new Roman Missal (“A reading from….” and “The Word of the Lord: Thanks be to God”). This is not the custom even at Roman rite Vespers or Readings. Let us hope that at future Evensongs the classic and familiar forms will be allowed their rhythms: “Here beginneth the seventh verse of the fifteenth chapter of the Book Deuteronomy” and “Here endeth the First Lesson.” The second lesson was from II Thessalonians 2. 13-14.

Although in Anglicanism, both in the Catholic tradition and in the Cathedrals, it can be customary to sing an office hymn after the first lesson and before the Magnificat (a tradition consolidated with the publication of the English Hymnal in 1906, which gave a complete set for Morning and Evening Prayer, mostly translated by John Mason Neale and set to the Sarum form of the tunes), this practice was not followed at St James’, even though it was a Solemn Evensong and incense was to be prepared for the Ordinary to cense the altar. Monsignor Newton was attended throughout by two deacons, one transitional and the other permanent, each vested in dalmatics.

The canticles were to a setting by Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, from the magnificent Service in C from 1909. This is Irish Anglican patrimony. A Dubliner, he studied at Cambridge, Leipzig and Berlin. His orchestral music is strongly influenced by his German experience, and owes a debt especially to Brahms. His attitude to the Anglican Church to which he belonged, in comparing it to the Lutheran churches he encountered in Saxony and Prussia, would have been shared with many of his ordinary Anglican contemporaries in the second half of the nineteenth century: that the Church of England was a Protestant Church alongside and essentially like those of Germany. He had no Anglo-Catholic inclinations, but may have seen the need for Anglican liturgy to aspire to the musical standards and artistic traditions so vigorous historically in the Lutheran church-world. This interplay with the culture of fine Protestant sacred music was a factor in the creativity of some of the Renaissance and Baroque Catholic composers (as we have noted before); so it is interesting to note the musical absorbency of Anglicanism, too, in the century of the rediscovery of Bach’s music, and the long forgotten works of the first composers for the English liturgy. The craftsmanship of Stanford’s writing marked a turning point in the English tradition of church music and set high new standards. His pupils included Gustav Holst, Herbert Howells and Ralph Vaughan Williams; their calibre may have surpassed their master’s, but there is no doubt as to the debt they owe him for the skills he passed on to them. And even with their very different compositional styles and inspirations, it is still Stanford whose music seems to provide the familiar terra firma on which other forms of sacred Anglican church music, some earlier and some later, can stand and excel.

After the Third Collect, the rite of Evensong as authorised for use in the Ordinariate revealed a small detail that showed the effect of fullness of communion in the Catholic Church: as it is a custom to commemorate the dead at Vespers, the Ordinary greeted all the faithful and said, “May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.”

The anthem was Henry Balfour Gardiner’s lush Evening Hymn. This great favourite is one of the few compositions of his that survive. He was highly self-critical, probably destroying much of his own work while generously promoting that of others, both financially and as a conductor. Gustav Holst and Frederick Delius owed much to this man’s benefaction. Evening Hymn is really a sumptuous setting of the Compline hymn, Te lucis ante terminum and comes from the period he was teaching music at Winchester College.

The Ordinary’s glad and thoughtful sermon, a reflection on Newman’s thinking as he responded to the call of God to become a Catholic, and ending with an act of trust in God for the future and what may be called of the Ordinariate, may be found on the Ordinariate website.

The hymns – and their tunes - were all chosen by Mgr Newton himself. Thus Newman’s Praise to the Holiest in the height from the Dream of Gerontius was sung to Sir Arthur Somervell’s Chorus Angelorum. See our earlier post on this tune.

Ready for the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament, the choir sang O Salutaris Hostia by Edward Elgar. For a century and more, Anglican Catholics took devotion to the Blessed Sacrament to their heart. By them it was sung in English long before Roman Catholics followed suit, and by them it was maintained long after it practically disappeared from many Catholic parishes. So Benediction was in English, but O Salutaris and Tantum Ergo were in Latin. Elgar’s Catholic church music is remarkable because it belongs to the tradition of English Cathedral church music, for which he also wrote. Once again, here we see, long before the Decree on Ecumenism and Ut Unum Sint, an exchange of treasures and gifts, or at least giftedness, between the Anglican and Catholic churches. By the same token, both motets form part of the regular repertoire of Anglican choral foundations – far from just being Latin and Roman Catholic they have been warmly embraced as part of the Anglican patrimony for years. Tantum ergo was to the setting by Déodat de Séverac, the Provençal composer of operas and piano music, the promise of whose mature, melodic style was cut short at 49 in 1921.

The hymns for the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament, at which the Knights of Malta provided an escort and over which they carried the canopy, began with William Chadderton Dix’s Alleluia, sing to Jesus. Many of Dix’s hymns were conceived during a time of great depression, following a serious illness of which he almost died aged 29. It is thus a hymn of the deepest hope and confidence, and the phrases, “not as orphans are we left in sorrow now,” “shall our hearts forget his promise, “I am with you evermore?”” and “Earth’s Redeemer, plead for me” are thus especially poignant. But it did not come to public attention until publication in 1867, after which it was immediately snapped up for inclusion in the Anglo-Catholic Hymns Ancient and Modern as an Ascensiontide and Communion hymn. The tune, Hyfrydol, was by Dix’s mid-nineteenth century contemporary Rowland H. Prichard. The wedding of the verses and the perfect tune for them seems not to have come about until the inspired editing of the music of the English Hymnal in 1906 by Ralph Vaughan Williams, who rearranged the harmonies in the form familiar to most choirs today.

The second hymn was George Hugh Bourne’s Lord, enthroned in heavenly splendour from 1874. This is another Ascensiontide Communion hymn, perfectly fitting a Procession of the Blessed Sacrament into the Holy of Holies, the sanctuary. Vaughan Williams set this to another Welsh tune of rare and powerful melody in G minor, Bryn Calfaria; but most people prefer a Victorian tune in a major key; so at Evensong we followed the Ancient and Modern tradition and used Sir George Clement Martin’s St Helena from 1889. Martin followed Stainer as organist of St Paul’s Cathedral. He wrote the Te Deum that was sung on the steps of St Paul’s for the famous Diamond Jubilee open air service, celebrating Queen Victoria’s 60 years on the throne. 

After a prayer for the Pope, we joined in saying before the Blessed Sacrament exposed the beautiful General Thanksgiving from the Book of Common Prayer. Generations of Anglican confirmation candidates had to know this, as well as the Commandments and the Creed, by heart. It was written not by Cranmer in the sixteenth century, but in 1661 by Edward Reynolds, a gentle Puritan, who had succeeded John Donne as Preacher at Lincoln’s Inn and later submitted to what looked like the final Presbyterian settlement of the Cromwellian Commonwealth. Yet he did not accept Presbyterianism as the sole doctrine or system to the exclusion of others, and did not differ from the teaching and order of the Church of England, provided it might rightly be governed. He believed, for instance, that bishops were acceptable as long as they were not prelates and sole rulers, but fellow-presbyters with the other ministers and governing in council with them. (This is not so dissimilar from the synodal form of governance provided by Anglicanorum Coetibus for the Ordinariates – or indeed from the spirit of Lumen Gentium!) Others were more resolute in their defence of the old order of the Church of England and lost their livings and office. Reynolds benefited from his moderation and equivocation, becoming Dean of Christ Church and Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford, although he advocated mitigation and reason in the application of the Commonwealth Solemn League and Covenant, rather than intolerance and severity. It was his opposition to the Commonwealth’s later test of allegiance to the English state, so as finally to exclude the monarchy, that finally lost Reynolds his position of influence from the University of Oxford. He returned to his parish at Braunston and was soon given the living of St Lawrence Jewry in the City of London. With further change and uncertainty in church life, as well as the burden of an unstable constitution, sustained not, after all, by Parliament but by force of arms and dictatorship, it was Reynolds who preached before Parliament in April 1660, condemning the uncertainties and wrongs of the preceding years and calling for a settled constitution to be brought back in its old form. In May he was sent by Parliament to Breda in the Netherlands to ask King Charles II to return to England as monarch and accept a moderate form of episcopal governance in the Church. Upon the king’s Restoration, such was his renown for learning, preaching and personal holiness, Reynolds was appointed a Court preacher with nine other Presbyterian divines. On the basis of the king’s Royal Declaration calling for conciliation between the Anglican and Presbyterian parties, he accepted episcopal ordination and the see of Norwich. But his conciliatory efforts at the Savoy Conference (that had resulted from the Declaration) were to no avail; and Parliament, now solidly Anglican and in no mood for accommodating the Presbyterians, refused to back the King’s efforts at a settlement. He continued at Norwich, seeing himself as a chief presbyter among other presbyters, tireless in the relief of the poor and conciliatory to those who were now cast as Dissenters and Non-Conformists. A Puritan, he was not a Calvinist. He did not preach a narrow doctrine of election but an Evangelical proclamation of the gospel that is open to all. Of the Father, he wrote, “Adam looks on Him as a judge, and hides - the prodigal looks on Him as a father and returns”. The magnificent General Thanksgiving he wrote conveys his spirit of God’s generous love that provides freely “the means of grace and the hope of glory”. Its sense of relief at the restoration of order in society and government after years of strife, turmoil and bloodshed is expressed in blessing the Father of mercies. Its hope for unity and peace in the Church is found in the typically Puritan resolve on a simple, thankful life in God’s service and the pursuit of holiness. More or less the same sentiments were voiced by Fr Paul Couturier in the 1930s, when he called all Christians to pray that they might become united in their hearts and outdo each other in aspiring to an ever greater holiness that would inevitably bring them closer in union to Christ and thus each other. It is amazing that this prayer by a Presbyterian, Puritan, Evangelical bishop is now a prayer cherished in the Catholic Church. Perhaps Reynolds, if he had lived in the mid twentieth century would have readily recognised his own faith in the Church of Christ as it was expressed in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church at Vatican II, Lumen Gentium. So perhaps this miracle in the lex orandi is nothing more than the natural outcome of the lex credendi we all held together all along.

Before the Blessed Sacrament we stood for the Te Deum, to the setting in B flat by Stanford. At the Coronation of King Edward VII in 1902, choirs up and down the land chose to sing Sir George Martin’s Te Deum composed for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. But at Westminster Abbey, it was Stanford’s Te Deum in B flat that was chosen. Stanford composed a new fanfare and introduction for the occasion, based on the solemn intonation of Gregorian canticle verses in tone eight.

We genuflected, as I just about remember doing as a child, at “We therefore pray thee, help thy servants, whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious Blood”. After the Te Deum, we knelt at de Séverac’s Tantum Ergo, the versicle, response and Collect (in English), before the Ordinary gave us Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament. The Divine Praises were followed by Psalm 117 (Laudate Dominum) with its antiphon, Adoremus in aeternum, to the Roman (not Sarum) tone six.

The final voluntary was the Finale from Louis Vierne’s First Organ Symphony. Vierne was organist of Notre Dame de Paris from 1900 to 1937. He was a man who, throughout his life, suffered – from the almost full loss of his sight, the loss of his wife in a divorce, the loss of his two brothers in World War I and an organ in a terrible state of repair. He raised the funds in America to restore it and this kind of determination and patience deeply impressed his many pupils, who recognised it in his kindness and patience with them. This persevering and imperturbable faith, enduring life’s troubles, reveals itself in his music. In the Finale there is the joy and exultation, but also an air of vigorous effort and even some hint of anxiety. Perhaps it was the perfect piece to choose to end this magnificent and so gratifying celebration. As Mgr Newton said in his sermon, quoting Dag Hammarskjold, surveying an exhilarating and challenging first year, slightly daunted by what may lay ahead, but confident that all has been and will be in God’s hands, “For what has been, thanks; to what will be, yes.”

Fr Keith told me they originally doubted whether people would come up to London on a Sunday and that the special Evensong would only attract a few. The Church, however, was packed with members of the Ordinariate and its friends, both Catholic and Anglican. At the reception afterwards, the Ordinary was generous in his thanks to all those who had helped and encouraged him and the Ordinariate in the past year, including the Catholic League. But what the strong body of support showed was more than money and good will in the past: here was the strong desire to sustain this initiative into a brave future by the grace of God.

It also showed that there is not only an urgent need for the Ordinariate to obtain its own buildings as the focus and bases for its unique mission, life of worship and thus a vitally needed witness. There is evidently determined and reliable support that could help to bring this about – and clearly, judging by the hundreds who came, there is a need in people that is seeking to be met.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: 18 January Intention

The Unity of all Christians
Father, your Son prayed on the night before he died that we his disciples might be one as the Father and the Son are one. Today we pray for the Unity of all Christians.  Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church; and grant us the peace and unity that is in accordance with Christ's will.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.  

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Paul Couturier, Apostle of Unity

Sunday 8 January 2012

New Year Newsletter - England's New Ecumenical Directions

Fr Mark Woodruff writes:

The last couple of years have been pointing to a new future for the English Church. First, the several jurisdictions of the Orthodox Church in Britain that are part of overseas national or regional Churches decided to live and act together. From now on, we will be talking less of the Russian, Greek, Serbian and other Orthodox Churches in this country and more of an Orthodox Church of Great Britain. Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira and Great Britain remains the ruling bishop of the churches belonging to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in this kingdom, but he is now to be known more widely as the President of the Assembly of Orthodox Hierarchs of Great Britain. Orthodoxy is not composed of national and provincial churches like Anglicanism and Lutheranism; it is supposed to be a single entity and thus manifest the universal Church of Christ wherever it is found – a living reality and an ecumenical objective on which it is united even now with the Catholic Church. So the new arrangements will bring its true nature and purpose to the fore. The Orthodox Church is not ethnic, or exotic: it is a local Church in Britain too, an integral part of the universal Church as we know it in these islands. Estimates are that in Britain there are half a million Eastern Christians of various backgrounds. This often disregarded body is a vast gift from God to sustain and reinvigorate the mission and service of all the Churches in this land. It is also his sign.

When the pastor for all the Churches and the servant of their unity, Pope Benedict, visited us in September 2010, he told us that the only way we can give a convincing account of the hope that lies within us is by unity – not good relations, but unity. This can be found in none other than the faith that the Church has received from the apostles. What God is painstakingly making clear in the different Orthodox Churches in Britain shows us that you do not have to abandon your identity, your traditions, your history or your ethos to be one in life and mission. There are still Greek, Russian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Antiochian, Arabic and other kinds of Orthodox dioceses and parishes, including a kind of English Orthodox Ordinariate – the largely ex-Anglican Antiochian Deanery of the United Kingdom. Each retains its rich and distinctive identity, the sense of family-belonging among its members, its precious cultural and liturgical traditions. But, without any threat to their integrity, they are not only in full communion between each other. They are working on how to be one body in British society, for all the world to see. As Pope Benedict said on how to achieve Christian Unity back in 1972, they are "entering more deeply into the mystery of the Church where you are, to discover that its reality is none other than one". Through them, God is showing us the road we must take to unity. There are tensions and problems and it may take many decades to achieve it. But internal Orthodox ecumenism is being determined by engaging with each other in hope, to deal with difficulties and disagreements, not by separation and estrangement. This is exactly what Pope Benedict was talking about: ecumenical progress is about plumbing the spiritual depths: getting under ecclesiastical self-interest, and settling in the Tradition that we have received.

Secondly, the black-majority and black-led Pentecostal Churches can no longer be seen simply as overseas denominations or individual congregations planted in Britain over the last half century. They form an increasingly coherent movement within the body of the Church in Britain. They are increasingly diverse. They are often serving people at the greatest risk in some of Britain’s most deprived areas, reminiscent of the zeal for service that brought practical relief and the good news of Jesus Christ by the hands of the Anglo-Catholic movement in the nineteenth century and beyond, as well as the Catholic Church in the same period. Some of these churches have their roots in the Reformed and Evangelical traditions. For other churches, the Pentecostal movement resulted in a breaking away from the Catholic Church and so there remains a strong sense of theological affinity as the search for integrating Church and Renewal in the Holy Spirit progresses. Several others have recognised their affinity with the Orthodox Church and its pronounced emphasis on the theology and operation of the Holy Spirit. Several evangelical charismatic individuals and churches have thus found their destiny in Orthodoxy. One, the Apostolic Pastoral Association, which has a strong African identity, takes inspiration from the Coptic Orthodox Church, itself from north Africa, because of its own concentration upon the apostolic faith of the Bible.

In both these families within the Church and how they are developing, the Spirit is blowing where he pleases, and dissolving the old certainties of who we are in the Body of Christ and how we belong to Him. Precisely as the former Cardinal Ratzinger once prophetically said, it is through going deeper than our denominations and encountering the single mystery of the Church.

This is the lens through which to view the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham that began to take form in January 2011. Too many people have seen this in an insular, English way as a mere swap between a choice of rival denominations. Is this what Anglo-Catholics actually believe about the Church of England being "part of" the one, holy, Catholic Church? Is that what those who are now Roman Catholics actually believe about the Catholic Church in which the entire Universal Church of Christ subsists and with which all Christians are already almost completely united by virtue of their Baptism? Of course not. For if we look at this new phenomenon in Anglophone Christianity from the point of view of the Pope and the unity of the Church that he is seeking, here is a concrete message that in the Church, whose complete unity is yet to be revealed, we will not all just have to change to Roman Catholic-"ism". The one Universal Church will integrate all kinds of gifts and providential histories that belong as gifts of the Spirit to the one Tradition and that serve the unity of our faith. In this one Church’s visible unity, there will be a Latin-rite Catholic reality enriched by all the cultures of the world; there will also be a Russian Orthodox reality, a Wesleyan Methodist reality, various realities with a proud attachment to the faith and values of the Reformation, a Baptist reality, a rich mix of Pentecostal and Charismatic realities. There will also be an Anglican reality with all the nuances and "noisy conversation" of its tradition as well as its glorious musical, liturgical and pastoral patrimony. The Pope is saying that the Catholic Church is not narrow, or that it can only conceive of absorbing the other and watering down the different. This is what some Catholics clearly want. But "united, not absorbed" was the declaration of Dom Lambert Beauduin at the Malines Conversations. Thus the Catholic Church is being urged by its supreme pastor to extend itself, imagine vast new spaces long uninhabited, and live up to realising it is called to be the manifestation of the entire universal Church itself. Of this, the Ordinariate for Catholics bearing their inheritance from the treasured Anglican patrimony is a foretaste. It is also a sign that the unity of the churches has to come out from behind great historic ecclesiastical institutions. These have their God-given purpose still, but they are the means and structure for the Church’s proclamation and service, not her limit.

The next Messenger will be a sequel to Anglicans and Catholics in Communion, capturing the important documentation and analysis about both the implementation of Anglicanorum Coetibus one year on. It will also take stock of our new phase in ecumenism, in which the historic witness of the Catholic League remains an insistent voice, proclaiming that there can be no true and lasting unity that does not first, or at least in the end, embrace the faith that the communion of all Christians needs communion with the Apostolic Local Church of Rome, whose Bishop is the universal pastor Christ has given to his Church and servant of that unity which is vital for that "convincing account of the hope that lies within us" to which Pope Benedict compels us.

As the annual Week of Prayer for Chrsitian Unity approaches - it was devised and first spread round the world by Catholics, and it was the Catholic League's founders who first promoted it in England - please pray ever more urgently for the Unity of Christians. Our nation and society demand nothing less of the Churches in our land than to manifest the one life and truth of Christ whom we proclaim.

New Grants

At the recent meeting of the Catholic League's Executive, the following grants were approved in realisation of the League's objectives:
  • £10,000 to the Anglican Centre in Rome towards the costs of its fine new booklet for free distirbution on the history of Anglican-Catholic relations and the imperturbably hopeful work towards corporate reunion between the Apostolic See of Rome and the "Church of England entire" with the Anglican Communion, within the one Catholic Church. Our grant will, moreover, enable the creation of a "virtual centre" of resources, documents and agreements that chart the progress of Anglican-Catholic unity and support the current work of ARCIC
  • £3,000 to the Ordinariate to support the The Portal, the online magazine to inform Roman Catholics and Anglicans alike about the Ordinariate’s positive purpose and to explore their shared patrimony, as it evolves into an official organ of the Ordinariate
  • £1,000 to the Norbertine Priory at Chelmsford towards the promotion of vocations

Thursday 5 January 2012

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity:Liturgy Resource

The League issues a Leaflet, aimed to assist clergy and lay people offering intercessions, biddings and the prayer of the faithful at the Mass and the Divine Office, especially Vespers, on each day in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

There is also a Litany and Collect that can be used in prayer groups and at ecumenical services.

The scheme for the daily prayers is based on the format used by Fr Paul Couturier from the 1930s onwards, but adapted to take account of the different traditions in the Church in Britain in the twenty-first century. They are modelled on the Solemn Prayers at the Good Friday Liturgy, at which are also remembered not just those of one's own Church, but all those who believe in Christ, those who do not believe in Christ but who do have faith in God, as well as those who do not believe in God - towards the unity of all humanity in the charity and truth of Christ, "according to his will, according to his means".

The Leaflet can be downloaded here, or a hard copy can be ordered from the Priest Director of the Apostleship of Prayer, Fr Chris Stephenson, by email here, or can be picked up from St Paul's Bookshop by Westminster Cathedral in person.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, 18-25 January Every Year

It is not always remembered that the one-hundred-and-two-year-old Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is thoroughly Catholic in origin and conception. Even its antecedents in the 19th century were inspired by a shared vision of the integrity of Christ's one Church and the desire for fulness of communion in the Spirit, proclamation of the Word of God, the order of the Church which serves and embodies that, and in sacramental and eucharistic life.

It began its existence as the Church Unity Octave in 1908, founded by Anglicans after a decade of despondency about the adverse judgment of the Roman See about Anglican Orders, just as Anglican leaders were beginning to look more to closer links with Christians in Reformed and Evangelical churches. Fr Paul Wattson, an American Epsicopalian Franciscan friar, and the Revd Spencer Jones, vicar of Moreton-in-Marsh and the author of the book, England and the Holy See, which caused a great national debate, combined to set up the Octave with  a reminder to their fellow Anglicans that Church unity could never be piecemeal or simply be a partial union between the like-minded, but had to start from the first principle of the integrity of the whole of Christ's Church as already one. Thus the reunion of all Christians with the Apostolic See of Rome and the successor of Peter, its Bishop, the Pope, was not merely a distant aspiration because of present difficulties and disagreements, the last step in ecumenism, but actually its first step. Unless the step was made in this direction from the outset, no one could ever arrive at it as the last.

The famous 1910 Edinburgh Mission Conference, to which the Catholic Church was invited to send representatives but declined to attend because the Conference seemed to promote the belief that there could be many parallel churches rather than one in which all could find unity, seemed to encourage the idea of an all-embracing fellowship of churches arising from the Reformation tradition, but maintaining their different theologies and systems. Jones felt that this movement was driving the Church of England from its Catholic self-understanding and the principle of reunion and reconciliation in one Church. He was central to the circle of figures that brought about the foundation of the Catholic League in 1913 to work for the union of all Christians in the Catholic faith and in union with the Apostolic See of Rome.

In 1908, Fr Wattson and his fellow friars were received as a community into the Catholic Church as the Society of the Atonement, which is still active in north America as a force promoting Catholic ecumenism. Wattson and Jones remained in contact as friends, both working and hoping for the same ideal of unity in Catholic faith and order. Meanwhile, the Church Unity Octave was sanctioned by Pope Pius X in 1909 and in 1916 extended to the whole Catholic Church by Pope Benedict XV as an aid for prayer and reconciliation among the nations at the height of the disastrous World War I. This was on top of a long-standing convention of praying between Ascension and Pentecost for the Reunion of Christians,  especially between Anglicans and Catholics, established in 1894 by Archbishop Edward Benson of Canterbury and by Pope Leo XIII in 1897.

The Church Unity Octave itself, as a Roman Catholic devotion, was not widely adopted beyond certain Roman Catholic and pro-papal Anglican circles. Yet a growing understanding of shared Christian identity, dogmatic belief and unitedness in the Scriptures that followed the Great War, together with the renewal from the Litrugical Movement and growing western awareness of Eastern Christianity on account of the many thousands of Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic refugees from communist and famine-struck Soviet Russia, revealed that Orthodox, Protestant and Anglican Christians continued, after all, to share a hope for unity in the one Body of Christ. Dom Lambert Beauduin, founder of the monastery that is now at Chevetogne in Belgium, was a pioneer in an ecumenically-aware monasticism that continues to this day to pray for unity through study, dialogue and the celebration of the Church's litrugy from both east and west. This in turn had a profound influence on Fr Paul Couturier, a teacher-priest from Lyon who thereafter devoted his every spare waking moment to enabling encounter between Christians of all traditions, and even people of other faiths, in what he called the "invisible monastery" of heaven, high beyond the walls of earthly separation, united there, if not on earth, in prayer for the unity and sanctification of all humanity in the charity and truth of Christ. Thus he added on to the Church Unity Octave the means for other Christians to unite themselves with the prayers of Catholics for the same hope of unity, "according to Christ's will, according to his means". The "spiritual ecumenism" which he commended became a cornerstone of the Vatican II Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio.

The renewal of the Church Unity Octave so as to make it possible for Orthodox, Protestants and Anglicans to offer prayers in the same week for Christian Unity, without any hint of urging anyone to be disloyal to their Church or Communion's teaching or to compromise on their theological principle, was motivated from beginning to end with prayer for one's own and one another's ever greater holiness and faithfulness in Christ. The spiritual principle was that the more closely one came to union with Christ, the closer one draws to fellow Christians on their own, similar journey; and thus can the churches draw closer to one another through entering more deeply into the truth, repenting of past mutual wrongdoing and rivalry, returning to theological and spiritual sources so as to retrace steps side by side on a common journey towards reconciliation in the same faith. Couturier called this common spiritual endeavour augmenting what was now named the Chair of Unity Octave (to stress the abiding centrality of the communion of all the churches with the See of Peter - it is noteworthy that that the new American Ordinariate for Catholics with an Anglican patrimony is established as the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, making clear its fundamentally ecumenical mission), "the Week of Universal Prayer for the Unity of Christians".

The spiritual involvement in the Octave, the Week of Prayer, became very widespread. It took on a new lease of life as the World Council of Churches was established as a new world order took shape after the Second World War and Christians were looked to for promoting principles of justice, peace and unity in humanity. The Faith and Order Commission is nowadays a principal agency by which the World Council of Churches and the Catholic Church internationally collaborate towards unity. From the 1950s it was producing spiritual resources for prayer for unity as commended by Fr Paul Couturier. In 1966 the two Catholic approaches - the Wattson's Chair of Unity Octave and Couturier's supplemental Week of Prayer - were formally united and from the following year the WCC and the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity (now a Pontifical Council) have produced annual materials for the Week of Prayer jointly through Faith & Order.

In 2003, the League arranged a celebration to mark the 70th Anniversary of the Refounding of the Week of Prayer and the 50th Anniversary of Fr Paul Couturier's death. In 2008 a great celebration of the Centenary of the Week of Prayer from its foundation as the Church Unity Octave was held in Westminster Abbey, led by Archbishop Rowan Williams and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor. More details on the history and significance of the Week of Prayer can be found on the League's dedicated websites:
The League also issues a Leaflet of prayers for each day of the Week of Prayer, especially designed to assist those who offer the intercessions at Lauds and Vespers, and the Universal Prayer of the Faithful at Mass. It is available for download here, from the League's Members' Secretary and Priest Director of the Apostleship of Prayer (email here) or from St Paul's Bookshop by Westminster Cathedral.

Tuesday 3 January 2012

The Newman Fund raises over £50,000 for the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham

Now that the Ordinariate has its own systems firmly in place for processing donations and collections, the League is no longer accepting new donations towards the Ordinariate through the Blessed John Henry Newman Fund. Existing regular donations remain unaffected for a transitional period. The gifts of those who still wish to donate to the Fund will be applied to the League's four objects, which may, of course, include support to the Ordinariate.

Since its inception in October 2010, the Catholic League has raised over £50,500 for the Ordinariate, including over £7,500 in Gift Aid that would not otherwise have been recoverable. This is in addition to the League's own grants of nearly £70,000 to support the work of the Ordinary and the Ordinariate's central services in the first few years of start-up.