Far More Precious Than Jewels

Proverbs 31 is a magnificent paean of praise to the virtuous wife, one of the greatest blessings a man could ever hope for on this side of eternity. Even after the faithful interpreter has identified the cultural elements in this much-neglected chapter, what remains is timeless and transcendent. Virtue, the Church teaches us, is the higher part of the human person that bears most clearly the image of God.

I cannot imagine what I would be today without my wife. If the family is the school for holiness, the godly wife (or husband) is the spiritual formator par excellence. Today marks our 40th wedding anniversary, and I thank you, dear Lord, for Debbie, your priceless gift who has graced my life and brought such joy!

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all’” (Prov. 31:28-29).

With our grandson Andrew.

With our grandson Andrew.

A Gathering of Ordinaries

 

Jean and Msgr. Harry Entwistle, Jill and Msgr. Keith Newton, Debbie and Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson.

Jean and Msgr. Harry Entwistle, Jill and Msgr. Keith Newton, Debbie and Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson.

It was a great privilege to spend a few days together with the Ordinaries of the Ordinariates of Our Lady of Walsingham (U.K.: Msgr. Keith Newton and Jill) and Our Lady of the Southern Cross (Australia: Msgr. Harry Entwistle and Jean) in Rome Feb. 15-18.  We enjoyed the opportunity to get to know each other, to share our joys and challenges, and to encourage each other.  We hope that it may become an annual gathering.

CDF and Ordinaries

Archbishop Luis Ladaria, SJ,, Fr. Steve Doktorczyk, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Msgr. Steven Lopes, and Archbishop Augustine DiNoia, OP, join the Ordinaries and wives.

The meeting with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Feb. 18 was particularly important for us.  In a wide-ranging discussion, several points stood out for me:

  1. We need to intensify our efforts to engage with the Church’s mission of evangelization.  The Ordinariates are not meant to be enclosed communities preserving a distinctive ecclesial culture but a witness to Catholic unity and a means of bringing souls into the barque of Peter.
  2. The Ordinariates must join in the prayers for vocations to the priesthood and religious life, as we come to incorporate the discipline of priestly celibacy of the Latin Church.  The dispensation from celibacy is intended only as a transitional step.
  3. Our clergy must continue to be formed in the disciplines of the priesthood.  The Prefect, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, specifically mentioned the need to “create a culture of communion.”

Because the unity of the Church is the ostensible reason for their establishment, effective communion will be a principle measure against which Ordinariate communities will be judged. Anglicans will be interested in how well you are able to make a home in the Catholic Church that is more than just assimilation.  Catholics will want to know that you are here to stay, strengthening our ecclesial cohesion rather than setting yourselves apart as another divisive grouping within the Church.  It is safe to say that all eyes are now on you and your parish communities!  For you who are the leaders of the Ordinariates, it is your delicate but all-important task both to preserve the integrity and distinctiveness of your parish communities and, at the same time, help your people integrate into the larger Catholic community.

The Prefect called on us to build closer relationships with the local dioceses, to be faithful in celebrating our distinctive liturgy, and to exercise vigilance over how our clergy use social media and blogs: “The image of the Ordinariate is not helped by un-reflected speech lacking in charity.”

Msgrs. Newton and Entwistle at the PCPCU with the famous photo of Pope Paul VI giving his episcopal ring to Archbishop Michael Ramsey.

Msgrs. Newton and Entwistle at the PCPCU with the famous photo of Pope Paul VI giving his episcopal ring to Archbishop Michael Ramsey.

Anglicanorum coetibus, the apostolic constitution which created the Ordinariates, intended that we should be fruitful in the work of unity and ecumenism.  With this in mind, the three Ordinaries also visited the Anglican Centre in Rome, where we received a gracious welcome from its director, Archbishop David Moxon, and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity (PCPCU).  While recognizing the sensitive nature of our mission, to help Anglicans whose consciences have prompted them to come into full communion with the Catholic Church, we are nonetheless committed to the Church’s ecumenical work and hope that we might be able to play a constructive role in advancing its goals.

Some 105 pilgrims from the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter then arrived in Rome for a truly wonderful pilgrimage Feb. 18-28.  More on this later.  On the way home, Debbie and I stopped for a day in Oxford to visit old friends.  What a happy time that was! We were at Mass on Mar. 2 at St. Aloysius’, Oxford (the Oratorians’ parish which figures so prominently in Brideshead Revisited) with three great souls of the Anglican Patrimony, Dr. and Mrs William Oddie, and Dr. Walter Hooper (who was C.S. Lewis’ secretary and literary executor).

 

Connie and William Oddie and Walter Hooper at St. Aloysius', Oxford.

Connie and William Oddie and Walter Hooper at St. Aloysius’, Oxford.

The Holy Father Welcomes the Ordinariate Pilgrims

 

POPE FRANCIS

GENERAL AUDIENCE

Saint Peter’s Square
Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Speaker:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis on the sacraments, we now turn to the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, which expresses God’s merciful presence to the sick, the suffering and the aged. The parable of the Good Samaritan reflects our Lord’s tender concern for those who suffer; like the Samaritan, and following Christ’s example and teaching, the Church brings God’s healing presence to the suffering through the sacramental sign of anointing with oil. As we learn from the Letter of James (5:14-15), the early Church continued his ministry to the sick through prayer and anointing by her presbyters. Through the celebration of the Anointing of the Sick, the Church accompanies us in facing the profound mystery of suffering and death. In a culture which all too often refuses to speak of these realities, we need all the more to recognize the beauty of this Sacrament and to appreciate, in spiritual solidarity with the whole Church, the presence of the Lord Jesus, who strengthens us in faith and hope, and reminds us that nothing – not even evil and death – can ever separate us from the saving power of his love.

Holy Father:

Saluto tutti i pellegrini di lingua inglese presenti a questa Udienza, specialmente quelli provenienti da Inghilterra, Danimarca, Canada e Stati Uniti. Rivolgo un saluto particolare ai partecipanti al Congresso Mondiale di SIGNIS ed ai pellegrini dell’Ordinariato Personale della Cattedra di San Pietro negli Stati Uniti. Saluto con affetto gli alunni e amici del Pontificio Collegio Canadese in occasione del centoventicinquesimo anniversario della fondazione. Su tutti i presenti invoco la gioia e la pace in Cristo nostro Signore!

Speaker:

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Denmark, Canada and the United States. I greet in particular the participants in the World Congress of SIGNIS and the pilgrimage group of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter from the United States. With affection I greet the alumni and friends of the Pontifical Canadian College on the 125th anniversary of the College’s establishment. Upon all present I invoke joy and peace in Christ our Lord!

© Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Pedro Toledo Ordained Deacon

The Most Rev. Fernando Isern ordained Pedro Toledo deacon at St. Kieran’s Catholic Church, Miami, on Jan. 18, 2014.  Deacon Pedro will be ordained priest on Feb. 15 at St. Louis Catholic Church, Miami, which hosts the community he leads, which will be under the title of St. Augustine of Hippo.

Pedro, his wife Betsy, and their family were radiant in witnessing to the fruitfulness of this work of Catholic unity.  The support from the Archdiocese of Miami has been warm and generous.  This is a remarkable milestone, one of the first fruits of the search for Catholic unity amongst Protestant groups in Latin America.

Bishop Fernando Isern congratulates Deacon Pedro Toledo.

Bishop Fernando Isern congratulates Deacon Pedro Toledo.

March for Life

Clergy and laity of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter will be gathering for the annual March for Life in Washington, DC on January 22, 2014 and we’re eager for a large representation this year. Those from the Ordinariate are coming in from many parts of the country, including groups from St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Scranton, PA; Mount Calvary Catholic Church, Baltimore, MD; Christ the King Catholic Church, Towson, MD; St. Luke’s Catholic Church, Bladensburg Virginia and St. John Fisher Catholic Community, Northern Virginia. Ordinariate activities related to the annual March are as follows:

January 24, 7:30pm – Evening Prayer and Solemn Benediction at Christ the King Catholic Church, Towson, MD for groups traveling south for the March. Christ the King is located at 1102 Hart Road, Towson, MD, 21286. Their phone number is 410-321-0711.

January 25, 8:30am – Low Mass (Roman Rite) and a casual breakfast at Christ the King before departing for Washington.

January 25, 12 noon to 1pm – Meet up for March for Life. Ordinariate faithful are asked to rendezvous at the intersection of 7th Street and Independence Avenue. You can look for our sign. We are eager to March together for this wonderful witness to Life.

The Ordinariate’s Witness for Life

Individuals and communities of the Ordinariate have been enthusiastic supporters of the National March for Life, which is scheduled for Jan. 22.  And I am very pleased that Fr. Randolph Sly has accepted appointment as head of the Office of Pro-Life and Public Policy for the Ordinariate. Through this office, we have officially established our relationship with the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities.  As this office is organized, our churches and communities can continue to witness, with increased effectiveness, as a voice for the unborn, the aged and infirm, indeed all whose lives have been marginalized.  Fr. Sly, who serves our Ordinariate community in northern Virginia, has been a prominent advocate for life issues for many years, and I am deeply grateful for his work to associate the Ordinariate with this vital aspect of the mission of the Catholic Church in the US.

Ordinations North and South

It has been a very full week, much in the spirit of Gaudete Sunday.  I was privileged to attend the ordinations of Fr. Lucien Lindsey of Augusta, GA., in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Savannah.  He was ordained to the diaconate the evening of Dec. 10 and to the priesthood on the morning of Dec. 11.  So he didn’t have much time to exercise diaconal ministry, but then neither did St. Ambrose!

Some things of note about this event.  Bishop Gregory Hartmayer OFM Conv., preached a fabulous homily that we will post on the Ordinariate website.  He told the story of the mission of the Ordinariate in a compelling way, with a Franciscan accent.  Fr. Lindsey, who bears a striking resemblance to the Holy Father, is forming Ordinariate communities in Augusta and Savannah.

Fr. Lucian Lindsey

Fr. Lucian Lindsey

The Bishop of Savannah presents the Gospel Book to newly ordained Deacon Lucien Lindsey on Dec. 10.

The Bishop of Savannah presents the Gospel Book to newly ordained Deacon Lucien Lindsey on Dec. 10.

I must also note the extraordinary Stations of the Cross in the Savannah Cathedral.  At the Eighth Station, when Jesus greets the women of Jerusalem, the soldier sticks his tongue out at the Lord.  How well has the artist captured the contempt of the world toward its Creator and Redeemer!Savannah 8th Station

Then on to Ottawa, where on Dec. 14, we added four priests for the Canadian Deanery of St. John the Baptist.  The ordination was at Notre Dame Cathedral, Ottawa, with Archbishop Terrence Prendergast S.J. as the ordaining bishop.  Archbishop Prendergast is one of the Ordinariate’s greatest friends, and his gracious and generous hospitality made us all feel at home.  Our Lady of the Snows made a visit too, transforming Ottawa with festive white.

Fr. John Hodgins will be serving the Community of St. Thomas More in Toronto.  Fr. James Tilley is forming a community in Oshawa, ON, and Fr. Doug Hayman and Fr. Kipling Cooper will be assisting Fr. Carl Reid at Annunciation, Ottawa, and looking after groups in southern Ontario.

The Canadian Deanery is thus off to a great start.  I want to thank the Catholic Conference of Catholic Bishops for their support and encouragement in helping us forward.

Fr. James Tilley, Fr. John Hodgins, Archbishop Prendergast, Fr. Doug Hayman, and Fr. Kipling Cooper

Fr. James Tilley, Fr. John Hodgins, Archbishop Prendergast, Fr. Doug Hayman, and Fr. Kipling Cooper

 

Advent Lessons and Carols

Lessons and Carols from Our Lady of Walsingham, Houston, Advent I, 2013.

Lessons and Carols from Our Lady of Walsingham, Houston, Advent I, 2013.

For those who did not know there is a panorama setting on the iPhone camera, courtesy of Margaret Pichon, photographer.  The music was as beautiful as this photo, a wonderful harmony of ancient and modern, as we heard the Scriptures telling us that the Advent of Christ is near.  Probably the best Lessons and Carols I have heard, and that includes four years at Christ Church, Oxford.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Quote

I am happy to share this lovely poem from the senior member of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, Mrs. Catherine M. Bellis, aged 102, of Catonsville, MD.  Catherine was received into the Catholic Church at Easter, and I had the privilege of greeting her again on my visit to Baltimore on Nov. 17.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

THANKSGIVING 1972 

For love beyond our comprehension,
For grace to meet all life’s dimensions,
For peace that sooths our deepest tensions,
Gracious, Loving Father, we thank Thee.

For forgiveness we shall win,
When to your call we enter in,
And cast off our dark life of sin,
Gracious, loving Father, we thank Thee.

For the joy of well-spent days,
When to you we turn in praise,
And our song of concord raise,
Gracious, loving Father, we thank Thee.

For happiness that small things bring,
A flower, a bird, a mountain spring,
A book to read, a song to sing,
Gracious, loving Father, we thank Thee.

For the gift of friends so dear,
Whom we honor and revere,
Whose lives are guideposts shining clear,
Gracious, loving Father, we thank Thee.

For family ties so deep and strong,
That near or far, our whole life long,
Create within our hearts a song,
Gracious, loving Father, we thank Thee.

For Your greatest gift of all,
A Babe laid in a manger stall,
Your precious Son, our Life, our All,
Gracious, loving Father, we thank Thee.

From the Heart of American Catholicism

Well, in a real sense from the fons et origo of the Catholic Church in the United States, the Basilica of the Assumption, Baltimore.  On Friday, Nov. 15, after the conclusion of the USCCB Fall Assembly, there was a wonderful ordination to the priesthood of Fr. Albert Scharbach.  Fr. Al was ordained by his boss, Bishop Denis J. Madden, auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, in what has been called “America’s most historic place of worship.”

Fr. Scharbach had previously served as curate at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Rosemont, before his reception into the Catholic Church several years ago.  He has been serving as secretary to Bishop Madden, who significantly heads the USCCB’s Committee on Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs.  Fr. Al and his wife Abby and their delightful family have been wonderful ambassadors for our patrimony.

Fr. Al and Abby Scharbach and their seven children.

Fr. Al and Abby Scharbach and their seven children.

I could not help but think of the remarkable Bishop John Carroll, the first Catholic bishop in America, who laid the foundation stone of the basilica in 1806 and who is buried in the crypt.  Bishop Carroll won a noble battle against “lay trusteeism” and for Catholic order.  The one part of our patrimony that we had to leave behind – the vestry system – has its roots in this story, which you can read in a fascinating address by Cardinal Dolan here

I am very grateful to Ms. Renata Grzan Wieczorek for sharing these photographs from her professional portfolio.  We had a great turnout of Ordinariate clergy plus many priests from the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Bishop Madden; Fr. Ken Bolen, Fr. John Worgul, Fr. Al Scharbach, Fr. Carlton Jones, Deacon Bud Reick, Fr. Ed Meeks, Fr. David Ousley, Fr. Eric Bergman, Msgr. Steenson, Fr. Richard Rojas, and Fr. Jason Catania.

Bishop Madden; Fr. Ken Bolen, Fr. John Worgul, Fr. Al Scharbach, Fr. Carlton Jones, Deacon Bud Reick, Fr. Ed Meeks, Fr. David Ousley, Fr. Eric Bergman, Msgr. Steenson, Fr. Richard Rojas, and Fr. Jason Catania.