Msgr. Steenson asks: What is the Anglican Patrimony?

In his blog “Quo vadis?” Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, gives the following answer:

Many have vainly struggled to answer this question. Many answers have been confidently advanced, but of course the problem has always been — Where is the authority to be found to resolve the conflicting claims?

It is an important question. Pope Paul VI put the matter in the context of Christian unity. “There will be no seeking to lessen the legitimate prestige and the worthy patrimony of piety and usage proper to the Anglican Church when the Roman Catholic Church – this humble ‘Servant of the Servants of God’ – is able to embrace her ever beloved Sister in the one authentic communion of the family of Christ” (Oct. 25, 1970). One of the goals of Anglicanorum coetibus is to embrace and incorporate this patrimony (III).

And now we have a criterion to help identify this worthy patrimony, in this working definition which guides the work of Anglicanae Traditiones, the joint commission of the Congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith and Divine Worship:

“That which has nourished the Catholic faith in the Anglican tradition during the years of ecclesial separation and now prompts the desire for full communion.”

Mindful of the crucial evaluation of ecclesial life in the Churches of the Reformation made by the Second Vatican Council (Lumen Gentium 8), it is not primarily about the recovery of old Catholic forms but about the reception and integration of organic Anglican traditions that have nourished the faithful these past five centuries. This is an inspiring vision for our mission!

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Just a short greeting from Romania

What a wonderful thing this internet is! Here I am in Timisoara in Romania with the same laptop greeting you as though I were sitting at home.

Am currently here on an international schools project with teachers and students from eight nations across Europe. It feels a bit like the Catholic Church!

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EWTN to broadcast Anglican Use Mass

On 9th October 2013 the global media network EWTN is scheduled to broadcast an Anglican Use Mass recorded on Sunday, 6th October at St. Luke’s Ordinariate Parish, Bladensburg, Maryland (near Washington D.C.).



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Our Walsingham Sisters eight months on

Sister Jane Louise of the Marian Servants of the Incarnation, our Ordinariate sisters at the National Shrine, has written us this message to keep us up to date on their news eight months after their return to Walsingham:

Sr.  Jane Louise and Sr. Wendy Renate

Sr. Jane Louise and Sr. Wendy Renate

Walsingham, 1st October 2013

Dear friends,

We have not produced a newsletter as yet, it is on the to do list. But this is what we are up to at present.

Most people will know that we came back to Walsingham on 1st February 2013. We are much more settled eight months on and so much seems to have happened in such a relatively short time. When we arrived the Shrine was still on its winter program, so things were ticking over quietly, which offered us a gentle introduction to the way things are done ‘the other end’.

Sister Wendy Renate has retuned her skills as a Sacristan, learning a few more in the process and is a much appreciated member of the Shrine choir. Her reputation as a bit of a comedienne also stays with her. This usually leaves people with smiles on their faces!

As for me the new role of Youth Missioner is slowly beginning to take shape. I am currently looking at ways of developing the youth work that is already in place, which has been slightly limited. There have been quite a number of different schools and colleges visit the Shrine through the season and I hope to be expanding the ways in which we welcome young people to the Shrine of Our Lady. This includes ‘taster’ days, which will be a look at the history and spirituality of the Shrine. I will also be looking at led retreats either for a day or weekend for age groups 7 – 11, 12 – 18 and 18 – 25. These will include vocational exploration days and so on, and offering a pilgrimage for the Ordinariate Youth is very likely.

I am aware that this type of work takes time to grow and is a work in progress, but the future looks exciting. I hope to be able to report back as to how things are developing in this area and welcome any enquiries. My contact details for my youth work are: Email:; Mobile: 07825 265607.

Community of our lady of walsinghamWe have a very good relationship with the Sisters of Our Lady of Walsingham, who have also recently established a presence at the Shrine. We first met them when we left our former community to become Catholics, when we stayed at the Brentwood House of Prayer, having nowhere else to live. I shall never forget the warm heartfelt hugs we received when we arrived feeling a bit shell shocked and very vulnerable. They were wonderful and still are.

Our community ethos’ are very different, which is why it works so well in Walsingham. Theirs is one of contemplative prayer and welcome and ours is more a mixture of the apostolic life and contemplation. Needless to say it can be quite difficult sometimes to achieve a happy balance.

Our Religious Vows were acknowledged by Rome in the early days of our new life in the Catholic Church – however, there were three of us in the beginning, we are now just two; this means we can only be in Private Vows. We have placed ourselves very much in the hands of Our Lord and Our Lady regarding new vocations. We feel that at present we can only live one day at a time doing what we believe is being asked of us. We do pray for new vocations and are preparing ourselves for the possibility of any women who might be thinking of testing their vocation with us. So we wait and see what the Lord has in store for us. Anyone who would like to get in touch with our little community can do so by emailing or calling 01328 820001.

Kind Regards,

Sr. Jane Louise

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The Portal Magazine – October 2013

This month’s issue of The Portal can be read here. Happy reading!

The Portal - Oct 2013My own second article on Anglican Patrimony can be found on Page 9.

David Murphy

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Christopher Howse: Sacred Mysteries – Mass, with words by Thomas Cranmer

(Hattip to Scott Anderson)

Christopher Howse of the Daily Telegraph is astonished to find the Protestant reformer’s prayers adopted by Roman Catholics

Christopher-HowseSomething extraordinary is happening in English churches. Imagine you arrived at an unfamiliar church just as the service was starting and you heard: “Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid…” Right, you’d think, CofE, Book of Common Prayer.

But this is the beginning of a Catholic Mass, a Roman Catholic Mass. It is a liturgy approved by the Pope, and it takes lumps of the Holy Communion service from the 1662 Prayer Book. I find the general effect pleasing but distinctly unsettling.

cranmer_2685392bTwo questions arise, depending on the direction from which one is coming. A member of the Church of England might wonder why Catholics should want to use the Book of Common Prayer compiled by Archbishop Cranmer (pictured here in 1546). A Catholic might ask: but is it the Mass?

The Catholics who already use it were once Anglicans and, since the beginning of 2011, have joined the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. About 80 have been ordained priests, and there are more than 1,000 lay people. Not many.

It is remarkable that the Vatican should have approved the service. (This is not technically a rite. It is, I think, a “use” of the Roman rite.) But on the question of its validity, it is to be noted that the “Eucharistic Prayer” is not the one in the Book of Common Prayer. It is a translation of the Roman Canon, but a different one from that in force in Catholic parish churches.

The Eucharistic prayer used by the Ordinariate is, like the rest of the service, full of thees and thous (for God) and words like “vouchsafe”. It follows the so-called Old English translation, which is not all that old, and certainly was not made by Coverdale as some think. But there are small variants. The words of consecration (if you enjoy significant detail) are those recently introduced into the ordinary Catholic version of the Mass in English, in which the Blood “will be poured out for you and for many”.

Much of the Mass for the Ordinariate will be familiar to those who went to a CofE or a public school: “the quick and the dead”; “manifold sins and wickedness, which we from time to time most grievously have committed”; “not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table”.

If anything, the Book of Common Prayer overdoes the weight of sin: “The burden of them is intolerable”. And so, as in the Ordinariate’s new order of Mass, it gives “Comfortable words” of Jesus’s: “Come unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden”, and so on.

For reasons I do not understand, some people don’t like the recent Catholic revision of the translation of the Creed used at Mass, where it says “consubstantial with the Father” rather than “of one being with the Father”. The Ordinariate version, like the Book of Common Prayer, has “being of one substance with the Father”. The meaning, whatever exactly that is, remains the same.

The order in which prayers come is unfamiliar to any who know only the Mass or the 1662 Prayer Book. The “Our Father” comes before Communion; the Gloria at the beginning, after the Kyrie, but the penitential rite after the Creed and bidding prayers.

In some ways the Ordinariate Mass is more clearly a sacrifice than the current English translation of the Roman Mass appears. At the Offertory of the new Ordinariate liturgy, the priest says he offers a spotless host “for the faithful in Christ, both the quick and the dead, that it may avail for their salvation”. This is what the Thirty-Nine Articles refer to when they say: “the sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said, that the Priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits”.

From October 10, the Ordinariate will show the world what the new liturgy looks like.

(My comment:

Christopher Howse asks two questions

  • Why do Catholics want to use elements of the Book of Common Prayer compiled by Archbishop Cranmer? and
  • Is this the Mass?

Let’s answer the second of these questions first. Yes, most decidedly, this is the Mass. The Anglicanae Traditiones commission of the Vatican which drew up the new Ordinariate Use Order of Mass, like the similar body thirty years ago which compiled the Anglican Use Mass for the pastoral provision communities in the United States, has scrutinised the Book of Common Prayer in its various editions very thoroughly. Much of Cranmer’s work was in fact the beautiful poetic rendition in his contemporary vernacular of traditional Catholic prayers. The commission has identified those prayers and liturgical actions which are compatible with the faith of the Catholic Church and has incorporated them in a new Order of Mass which is completely valid and which all Catholics can attend, if they wish to.

But why an Anglican-inspired Mass at all? To understand this it is necessary to look more closely at the new concept of Church Unity which was developed at the Second Vatican Council. This involves a high esteem for other Christians and their faith history. The Church recognises that all baptised persons are indeed Christians, that much of what they believe and many of their liturgical actions are completely in line with Catholicism, although different aspects may be stressed and other forms used. In fact a great deal that the churches of the Reformation protested about and then reformed was indeed crying out for reform (if only that reform could have taken place within the Church rather than in separated communities).

This new view of Unity (unity in diversity rather than uniformity) has led to many very fruitful dialogues between the various churches, which have produced noteworthy documents on shared aspects of the faith. The ARCIC process with the Anglican Church is one such longstanding dialogue. This even led many Anglicans to believe that corporate unity with Rome was not only possible but indeed imminent.

Unfortunately many liberalising tendencies within the Anglican Communion which were not immediately reconcilable with either Catholicism or Orthodoxy have made unity in our time well-nigh impossible. This is why several groups of Anglicans in many parts of the world approached the Vatican with the request for them to be reconciled corporately with the Catholic Church and for them to bring important elements of their Anglican identity with them.

As this reflected Pope Benedict XVI’s own vision of the Unity of all Christians  with a profound reverence for each other’s traditions and heritage, he was only too pleased to offer these Anglicans the possibility to join the Catholic Church as groups, to govern themselves in quasi-dioceses called Personal Ordinariates with their own Ordinary in the rank either of Bishop (for unmarried men) or Protonotary Apostolic (for married men) and to bring with them elements of their Anglican patrimony as an enrichment for the whole Catholic and Apostolic Church. As Christopher Howse says, this is indeed “something extraordinary” and it is understandable that it might be unsettling for some who do not completely understand its significance as a most generous but completely logical ecumenical gesture.

It is only a pity that we cannot yet welcome the whole Anglican Communion into a relationship of full communion, but the respect shown to Anglicanism by the Pope emeritus in the creation of the Ordinariates is a prophetic sign of what might one day be possible. Let us pray fervently for this day.

David Murphy)

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Catholic Church in decline in Germany

Germany is a particularly painful example of the effects of secularisation on the organisation and life of the Catholic Church.

As I have reported before, the number of young people who still have a connection to the Church or the faith is now very small. It is fair to say that in the classes which I teach maybe half a dozen out of 20 to 30 still consider themselves believers and half of those are Muslims.

In the town of Rheine where I live we now have three parishes (one on the left of the river, one on the right and one in the surrounding villages), where we had five last year and fourteen in the not too distant past. The parish which I attend has two redundant churches, one of which is being transformed into a columbarium. Most of the surrounding towns (up to about 50,000 inhabitants) now have only one parish where they may have had three or four very recently and nearly all of the villages are part of one of the larger parishes in a neighbouring town.

Our daily newspaper today reported about a particularly sad example of a parish church in Immerath on the Lower Rhine, near the Dutch border.

St Lambertus immerathThe beautiful neo-Romanesque village church of St. Lambert (known familiarly as the “Cathedral of Immerath”) is to be deconsecrated on 13th October 2013, when the bells will ring out over the village for the last time. The church building will then be demolished to make way for an open-cast coalfield.

BraunkohlebergbauThe number of faithful at St. Lambert’s has dwindled to less than 60 and they are now moving to a small new chapel in a parish centre. In 2010 ten parishes were amalgamated to form one new parish.

The costs of maintaining the parish church were prohibitive and so when the offer came from the coal-mining company the parishioners seized at it.


Currently there is the atmosphere of an auction sale in the church. Bids are being made for altars, statues, pews, crosses, candlesticks, pulpit and after the 13th the decisions will begin to be made as to who the lucky new owners will be.

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2128371813Individual potential buyers are bidding on large life-size angel statues, which the sacristan herself would not put in her own bedroom: “I would get a shock every time I woke up”. A community of sisters in Bonn have put in a bid for twelve pews, a small village church in the region is after the organ, and so on. Anyone interested in acquiring any of the furnishings should contact the “Chapel Committee”.

Here is some of the beautiful 20th century stained glass (depicting St. Agatha, St. George and St. Nicholas):

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My heart bled when I read the story this morning, and I wish I had the means to rescue some of the items myself (St. Agatha for St. Agatha’s, Portsmouth, for example!)

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