Friday, July 31, 2009

YEAR OF THE PRIEST: Ordination Sermon by Bishop Joe Grech

In Jesus superstardom is not limited to one or to a few individuals. In Jesus we are all empowered to do great things. Some time ago during a meeting of the Diocesan Pastoral Council I was struck with a phrase that was used at the opening prayer. "I am God's story of hope to the world." How true it is. There have been and there are so many people who manifest in various ways this reality. There are young people whose generosity and embrace of life enthralls me. There are married people whose sense of care, tenderness and compassion amazes me. There are single people whose dedication encourages me and there are priest and religious whose faith and genuine shepherding gives me so much hope.

This evening we are here to support, pray and encourage Jake who in a short time is going to say publicly. "I am God's story of hope to the world in my ministry as a priest." What is a priest supposed to do to be an instrument of God's hope to the world? The Official Church documents and the Roman Ritual for today's Liturgy of Ordination talk about three specific ministries. The priest is ordained to (a) preach the gospel; (b) sustain the people; (c) celebrate the liturgy. I would like to offer some remarks about these three roles.

In the first place, Jake you are called to preach the gospel. In other words you are called to preach Jesus Christ and the power that is present here today through his resurrection. Over and above everything else this is our proclamation. Paul was convinced of this as we heard in the second reading of today. The ministry of Paul was animated and empowered by the conviction that he was commanded to preach to the people and to testify that Jesus is the Messiah, truly human and truly divine. Jake as all of us priests, you are called to preach with conviction, with passion and in an intimate manner what Jesus taught and what Jesus promulgated and relate all of this to the life situation of our people. Do not be afraid to preach about the Cross of Jesus. For us the Cross is not a sign of death, defeat or of madness. It is rather a powerful reminder that no matter what difficulties we need to face, in Jesus there is life, there is hope, there is victory. The Cross is a stark reminder that we are people of victory because ultimately everything will be put under the leadership of Jesus, even death. This was also Paul's conviction.

Vaclav Havel, the ex-president of Czechoslovakia, who became president after the overthrow of communism in his country, had this to say about hope. "Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out." As Christians, the hope that we are all yearning for and the hope that we can offer to all the people of the world in the conviction that all that we live for, happiness and sorrow, victory and defeat will be found to have sense in Jesus. Proclaim this steadfastly. Remember as we have heard in the first reading. "Do not say I am a Child." Rely on our God who is alive today to guide you.

Secondly, you are ordained to sustain your people and to let God's people sustain you. Feed our people with Jesus; be close to them in the different circumstances of their lives. Do not minister in isolation. Our ministry is tied up with our relationship with our brother priests, religious and our people. In this way we are not alone. Fear can creep up on us if we think that we have to do this ministry on our own. There is only one way to combat this fear and that is by refusing isolation and by building communion around us. Timothy Radcliffe the former Superior General of the Dominican order tells this story taken from his book entitled "What is the point of being a Christian?" Someone once wrote to a famous Rabbi that he was deeply unhappy. He wrote, "I would like the Rabbi's help. I wake up each day sad and apprehensive. I cannot concentrate. I find it hard to pray. I keep the commandments but I find no spiritual satisfaction. I go to the synagogue but I feel alone. I begin to wonder what life is about. I need help." And the Rabbi just sent the letter back underlining the first word of each sentence. And it is always the same "I". This is the unhappiness of the lonely self. Yes sustain and feed our people but let also our people, brother priests, sisters and religious sustain you too. Love the church and let yourself be sustained by the love of the church.

In the third place, you are being ordained to celebrate the liturgy. My brother Jake, remember that when you are celebrating the liturgy you are not representing yourself but you are representing Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and in union with God the Father. The more faithful you are to your prayer life the more you give time to be close with our God, the more you will let Jesus Christ shine through you, with you and in you. The Sacraments highlight the awesome presence of Jesus Christ at the most important moments of a person's life. May the way you celebrate the liturgy give our people the experience of being touched by this God who cares deeply for each one of us.

God has called you to be his sign of hope to the world as a priest. We pray with you and for you today that through your ministry you may enable those who you meet to understand that they too are the sign of God's hope to the world through the various state of life that they embrace.

The Most Rev'd Joe Grech is Bishopn of Sandhurst in Victoria, Australia. This homily was preached at Jake Mudge's Ordination in 2008, and taken from the diocesan website.

Monday, July 27, 2009


O Lord, I am not worthy,
I am not fit,
that thou shouldest come under the roof of my soul;
for it is all desolate and ruined;
nor hast thou in me fitting place to lay thy head.

But, as thou didst vouchsafe to lie
in the cavern and manger of brute cattle,
as thou didst not disdain to be entertained
in the house of Simon the leper;
as thou didst not disdain that harlot,
like me, who was a sinner,
coming to thee: and touching thee;
nor the thief upon the cross confessing thee:
So me too the ruined, wretched, and excessive sinner,
deign to receive the touch and partaking
of the immaculate, supernatural,
life giving, and saving mysteries
of thy all-holy Body and thy precious Blood.

Listen, O Lord, our God, from thy holy habitation,
and from the glorious throne of thy kingdom,
and come to sanctify us.
Thou who sittest on high with the Father,
and art present with us here invisibly;
come thou to sanctify the gifts which lie before thee,
and those in whose behalf, and by whom,
and the things for which, they are brought near thee.
And grant to us communion, unto faith, without shame,
love without dissimulation,
fulfilment of thy commandments,
alacrity for every spiritual fruit;
hindrance of all adversity,
healing of soul and body;
that we too, with all saints,
who have been well-pleasing to thee from the beginning,
may become partakers of thy incorrupt and everlasting goods,
which thou hast prepared, O Lord, for them that love thee;
in whom thou art glorified for ever and ever.
Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world,
take away the sin of me, the utter sinner. Amen.

Bishop Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mother chooses life of child over cancer treatment

Denver, Colo., Jul 24, 2009 / 03:19 pm (CNA).- Though Mayra Sandoval died of cancer on July 8, her son Samuel is alive and healthy thanks to her insistence on choosing life, against the advice of doctors who urged her to abort. Now, Mayra's husband and friends remember her as a powerful witness to the immeasurable value of life.

In an interview with the Denver Catholic Register, Mayra's husband, Ricardo Flores, recalled the battle of faith and trust that the couple underwent in the months leading up to her death.

Both Ricardo and Mayra were born in Mexico. They moved to U.S., where they met three years ago, began to date, and eventually moved in together. At the time, neither had a strong faith, but they were nevertheless overjoyed when, in October 2008, Mayra became pregnant.

Months later, doctors detected a cancerous tumor in Mayra's lungs that was already in an advanced stage and was still continuing to grow. Mayra was advised to abort the baby on the spot, so that she could start a treatment to halt the cancer growth.

But Ricardo and Mayra chose life. Although it was difficult, Ricardo said he never had any second thoughts in the decision to choose life. When the option of abortion was presented, "We always said 'no.' We couldn't do that," he explained. "God gave life and God takes it away."

"And we can trust in God and let His will be done," he continued, explaining the peace that the couple found in abandoning themselves to the Lord's will. "We can accept whatever God sends us, good or bad."

While Mayra's cancer continued to take its toll, the couple was beginning to learn more about their faith. Mayra's sister, Aida, recalled the couple's spiritual journey. She described how God had not always played a prominent role in her sister's life. "She believed, but like many Catholics, did not know her faith," she said.

The road was difficult, but Ricardo and Mayra were not alone. They received prayerful support and solidarity from the Catholic community, including prayer groups from St. Anthony of Padua and St. Joseph's parish.

Particularly memorable for Ricardo was the loving presence of Fr. John Gregory, who helped the couple through their struggle. "He was always close to us," he said, "teaching us, helping us, supporting us, strengthening us, speaking to us about God, of all that God had done for us."

The sickness brought many trials, but also moments of light and hope. One time, the couple passed by St. Joseph's Church as they were on their way to the hospital. Mayra was experiencing sharp pains and having difficulty breathing, but she asked to stop at the Church.

"Without thinking about it, we got out and as we entered we saw the image of the Divine Mercy and she started to cry right there," Ricardo said, noting Mayra's devotion to the image of Divine Mercy.

They stayed at the Church praying for about two hours, first alone and then with members of a prayer group who arrived and offered to pray with them. Mayra's pain soon disappeared.

"As we went home, we were reflecting on all that had happened: we were going to the hospital but ended up in the Church," Ricardo said. "That was another incredible thing that consoled us and brought us peace. Again we realized that we weren't alone."

Six and a half months into the pregnancy, Mayra began chemotherapy. About six weeks later, however, doctors determined that the treatments were not working, and they had to perform an immediate caesarean section.

The operation involved a high risk of death for both Mayra and her son. It was an intense day of prayers and trust, Father John Gregory explained, and it affected even the hospital workers. "The nurses said, 'This the first time we have seen something so strong, the blending of life and death.'"

Mayra survived the C-section, and Samuel was born, healthy for a premature baby. After a few weeks, the family was able to go home, but Mayra's condition continued to decline, until she had to return to the hospital, where the pain could be controlled.

Despite radiation therapy, the cancer overtook Mayra's body and eventually, she was unable to eat or even breathe on her own.

On June 21, while she was in the hospital, Mayra and Ricardo were married. As they had grown in their faith and received guidance from Fr. John Gregory, they had come to see the meaning of marriage.

"We got married in a room in the hospital. It was beautiful," Ricardo said. "Afterwards, we felt peaceful, in God's grace. We also did it for Samuel, so that he could also receive God's blessing of having his parents married."

As her condition grew worse, Mayra's family prepared for the end of her earthly life. Aida described the beauty that shone through the pain of her sister's last days on earth. "At the end, I saw her like Christ, with so many wounds and bruises on her arms and her side," she said.

Those who knew Mayra will remember her beautiful witness to life. Fr. John Gregory described the opportunity to accompany Mayra along this difficult journey as "an incredible path of faith" for his own life.

"[T]his experience has given me more strength to preach what death really is, because she gave me a witness of a new birth," he said. "It has given me more enthusiasm and helped me to understand that I have to explain that the true death is sin, not physical death."

Ricardo said that Mayra's sickness and death taught him about the existence and love of God. "Through all this, God made me know that He exists, that He is with us," he said.

Ricardo wants to give back to the Catholic community that has and continues to support him. But for now, his primary focus is his new son, whom he wants to raise and educate in God's love. "Now I have to look after Samuel, and tell him that his mommy gave her life for him," he said.

Although coping with Mayra's death is still difficult, Ricardo finds strength in the Lord as he moves forward. "Now I'm at peace," he said. "I have hope and continue trusting in God. It has changed my life."

Copyright @ CNA

Thursday, July 23, 2009

YEAR OF THE PRIEST - Evelyn Underhill on the Prayer Life of the Clergy

After she had died, a letter Evelyn Underhill wrote to Cosmo Gordon Lang, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1928 to 1942, was discovered among her papers. She wrote it in the run-up to the Lambeth Conference of 1930. It concerns the inner life of the clergy. The words of this great spiritual director are just as cogent today as when they were written.

MAY it please your Grace:

I desire very humbly to suggest with bishops assembled at Lambeth that the greatest and most necessary work they could do at the present time for the spiritual renewal of the Anglican Church would be to call the clergy as a whole, solemnly and insistently to a greater interiority and cultivation of the personal life of prayer. . .

. . . the real failures, difficulties and weaknesses of the Church are spiritual and can only be remedied by spiritual effort and sacrifice, and . . . her deepest need is a renewal, first in the clergy and through them in the laity; of the great Christian tradition of the inner life. The Church wants not more consecrated philanthropists, but a disciplined priesthood of theocentric souls who shall be tools and channels of the Spirit of God: and this she cannot have until Communion with God is recognized as the first duty of the priest. But under modern conditions this is so difficult that unless our fathers in God solemnly require it of us, the necessary efforts and readjustments will not be made.

. . . more and more emphasis has been placed on the nurture and improvement of the intellect, less and less, on that of the soul. I do not underrate the importance of the intellectual side of religion. But all who do personal religious work know that the real hunger among the laity is not for halting attempts to reconcile theology and physical science, but for the deep things of the Spirit.

We look to the Church to give us an experience of God, mystery, holiness and prayer which, though it may not solve the antinomies of the natural world, shall lift us to contact with the supernatural world and minister eternal life. We look to the clergy to help and direct our spiritual growth. We are seldom satisfied because with a few noble exceptions they are so lacking in spiritual realism, so ignorant of the laws and experiences of the life of prayer. Their Christianity as a whole is humanitarian rather than theocentric. So their dealings with souls are often vague and amateurish. Those needing spiritual help may find much kindliness, but seldom that firm touch of firsthand knowledge of interior ways which comes only from a disciplined personal life of prayer. In public worship they often fail to evoke the spirit of adoration because they do not possess it themselves. Hence the dreary character of many church services and the result in the increasing alienation of the laity from institutional forms.

God is the interesting thing about religion, and people are hungry for God. But only a priest whose life is soaked in prayer, sacrifice, and love can, by his own spirit of adoring worship, help us to apprehend Him. We ask the bishops . . . to declare to the Church and especially its ministers, that the future of organized Christianity hinges not on the triumph of this or that type of churchman's theology or doctrine, but on the interior spirit of poverty, chastity and obedience of the ordained. However difficult and apparently unrewarding, care for the interior spirit is the first duty of every priest. Divine renewal can only come through those whose roots are in the world of prayer.

THE TWO things that the laity want from the priesthood are spiritual realism and genuine love of souls. It is by these that all Christian successes have been won in the past and it is to these that men always respond. We instantly recognize those services and sermons that are the outward expression of the priest's interior adherence to God and the selfless love of souls. These always give us a religious experience. On the other hand, every perfunctory service, every cold and slovenly celebration (for these are more frequent than the bishops realize because when they are present, everything is at its best), is a lost opportunity which discredits corporate worship and again reflects back to the poor and shallow quality of the Priest's inner life . . .

I know that recovering the ordered interior life of prayer and meditation will be very difficult for clergy immersed increasingly in routine work. It will mean for many a complete rearrangement of values and a reduction of social activities. They will not do it unless they are made to feel its crucial importance. This will not be achieved through "schools of prayer" which stimulate the mind rather than the spirit. But the solemn voice of the united episcopate, recalling the Church to that personal, realistic contact with the Supernatural which has been since Pentecost the one source of her power, will give authoritative support to those who already feel the need of a deeper spirituality and will remind the others that the renewal of a spiritual society must depend on giving absolute priority to the spiritual life.

I venture to put before the conference the following practical recommendations:

(1) Education of Ordinands - That the bishops shall emphasize the need and importance of a far more thorough, varied, interesting and expert devotional training in our theological colleges which, with a few striking exceptions, seem to me to give insufficient attention to this vital part of their work.

(2) The Clergy - That they should call upon every ordained clergyman, as an essential part of his pastoral duty and not merely for his own sake:

(a) To adopt a rule of life which shall include a fixed daily period of prayer and reading of a type that feeds, pacifies and expands his soul, and deepens his communion with God;

(b) To make an annual retreat;

(c) To use every endeavour to make his church into a real home of prayer and teach his people, both by exhortation and example so to use it.

Monday, July 20, 2009


The address of Pope John Paul the Great to the youth of the world on the occasion of World Youth Day, 2004.

My dear young people!

I invite you to intensify your path of spiritual preparation by reflecting on the theme I have chosen for this 19th World Youth Day: "We wish to see Jesus" (Jn 12:21).

This is a request made to the Apostles one day by some "Greeks". They wanted to know who Jesus was. They had come not simply to see what kind of impression the man Jesus would make. Moved by great curiosity and a presentiment that they had found the answer to their deepest questions, they wanted to know who he really was and whence he came.

My dear young people, I want you too to imitate those "Greeks" who spoke to Philip, moved by a desire to "see Jesus". May your search be motivated not simply by intellectual curiosity, though that too is something positive, but be stimulated above all by an inner urge to find the answer to the question about the meaning of your life. Like the rich young man in the Gospel, you too should go in search of Jesus to ask him: "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" (Mk 10:17).

Mark the Evangelist states clearly that Jesus looked at him and loved him. You may remember another episode in which Jesus says to Nathaniel: "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you", drawing from the heart of that Israelite, in whom there was no guile (cf. Jn 1:47), a fine profession of faith: "Rabbi, you are the Son of God!" (Jn 1:49).

Those who approach Jesus with a heart free of prejudice can quite easily come to have faith because Jesus himself has already seen them and loved them first. The most sublime aspect of human dignity is precisely man's vocation to communicate with God in a profound exchange of glances that is life transforming. In order to see Jesus, we first need to let him look at us!

The desire to see Jesus dwells deep in the heart of each man and each woman. My dear young people, allow Jesus to gaze into your eyes so that the desire to see the Light, and to experience the splendour of the Truth, may grow within you. Whether we are aware of it or not, God has created us because he loves us and so that we in turn may love him. This is the reason for the unquenchable nostalgia for God that man preserves in his heart: "Your face, Lord, do I seek. Do not hide your face from me" (Ps 27: 8-9). That Face - we know - was revealed to us by God in Jesus Christ.

My dear young people, don't you too wish to contemplate the beauty of that Face? That is the question I address to you on this World Youth Day 2004. Don't be too hasty in your reply. First of all, create a silence within yourselves. Allow this ardent desire to see God emerge from the depth of your hearts, a desire that is sometimes stifled by the distractions of the world and by the allurements of pleasures. Allow this desire to emerge and you will have the wonderful experience of meeting Jesus.

Christianity is not simply a doctrine: it is an encounter in faith with God made present in our history through the incarnation of Jesus.

Try by every means to make this encounter possible, and look towards Jesus who is passionately seeking you. Seek him with the eyes of the flesh through the events of life and in the faces of others; but seek him too with the eyes of the soul through prayer and meditation on the Word of God, because "The contemplation of Christ's face cannot fail to be inspired by all that we are told about him in Sacred Scripture" (Novo millennio ineunte, 17).

From the Vatican website HERE

Thursday, July 16, 2009

YEAR OF THE PRIEST - An Ordination Sermon from Dr John Heidt

It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit. John 15:8

Slowly and solemnly, the priest with his two deacons ascends the steps to the altar - not just the three steps that you find in many Episcopal Churches, but more than a hundred steps up a great pyramid. And the priest is not wearing a peculiar hat with a pom-pom and several blades attached to its sides, but a gorgeous headdress of gold and silver and long multicolored feathers cascading down his back. Nor does he wear a long black skirt, or if he happens to be a Canon or Rural Dean, a skirt with edges splashed about in scarlet. His chest is bare, painted all over with mystic symbols and sacred signs. He reaches the top of the pyramid and stands beside the altar while his deacons strap down on its hard stone surface the young, beautiful sacrificial victim. A hush comes over the crowd. Then the drums begin to roll, the organ plays and the trumpets blare forth, as the priest takes the ornate ceremonial knife, lifts it far above his head, then plunges it into the chest of the victim, and with the other hand reaches in and pulls out her still beating heart and holds it high for all the people to see. A great shout of jubilation rises from the crowd; another victory for their God, another sacrifice complete.

Well, whatever else you may want to say about it, for dramatic effect it certainly beats what we do here at St. Laurence Church Sunday after Sunday. Here we seem content with such simple and ordinary things, actions with no apparent significance or real importance; perhaps, if we dare say it, actions that even seem a bit monotonous at times - a dash of water over a baby's head, little bits of tasteless bread, small sips of wine, a smudge of oil on peoples' foreheads, outstretched hands in blessing or absolution. And that's just about it. That's about all we have to offer. We have no other tricks up our sleeve.

And we ask ourselves, is it enough? Don't we need something more? Actual childbirth seems much more thrilling than rebirth at the font, and when I am hungry I go to a restaurant or to the grocery store rather than to Communion; if I become ill I am much more likely to call my doctor than to tell my priest.

We are tempted to turn to our priests and ask them to give us something more dramatic, more impressive, more important and significant. And, oh, how easily we priests fall for it. Like everyone else, we all need to be needed; we need to think that what we do is really worthwhile. So we search around for something that can make us feel that we are men among men, something that our friends will appreciate, something our families will respect, perhaps even something that will strike fear into the hearts of our enemies. We go to the politicians' platform and try to become a great orator or defender of social justice and human rights; we borrow the professor's books in the hope of becoming a great scholar; we envy the psychiatrist's couch and try to pass ourselves off as cheap social workers or psychological counselors. Perhaps we attempt to make a reputation for ourselves, following in the footsteps of the carpenter and architect, by building or repairing lots of churches. And if all else fails, we can always imitate the local electrician and always turn on the lights or adjust the air conditioning.

Now all these things are perfectly good things for a priest to do - if he has the time. Paul after all was a tent maker, and Peter was very involved in the commercial fishery industry. Yet it was not for these things that we were ordained, and it should not be for these that we are paid.

There are only three things your priest can do that no one else can do. He can take those little pieces of tasteless bread and small sips of wine and turn them into the body and blood of your God; in God's name he can shower divine blessings upon you; and he can forgive you your sins.

At first this sounds great, but when you come to think of it, what are these things but lunacy at best and sacrilege at worst? With the ancient Jews we want to cry out, "This is blasphemy; who but God can forgive sins?" And we ask ourselves, how dare my priest think that only he can bless us when our own children say such a divine blessing before our family meals? And who but a superstitious charlatan or deranged magician can possibly think that he can turn bread and wine into God's body and blood?

We ask our priest: "Who do you think you are, anyway, a little God, another Jesus Christ?" And, as hard as it may be to believe and more difficult to understand, the answer must always be a resounding yes. Your priest is another Christ, what we call an Alter Christus. He is the local embodiment of the presence of God among you - an icon, a window into the court of heaven, a walking sacrament of Jesus Christ.

Today we are making Lee Nelson one of these walking sacraments. And I can tell you right now that he is not going to do a very good job of it. I know this, because none of us do a very good job of it. The outward sign is smeared by our sins; the vision is clouded, the window misted over. You are right to demand much of your priest, but do not expect much in return. He has nothing to give you but God; nothing to do for you, but give you back to Him. His task is to place you upon the hard surface of God's sacrificial altar, and then lead you in lifting up your hearts for God to see. For the world this will seem like not very much, but for us it is the gate of heaven and the way into the salvation of our souls.

(The candidate stands.)

Lee Michael Nelson, today you shall be empowered to do what is not given angels to do, to offer God to God. Every time you make that offering and stand before the altar of His sacrifice take all your people with you. Lay them on your heart and place your heart upon the altar. Some of them will not be very nice. Some you will not like, and several will probably not like you. It has always seemed to me a good thing to let people know that right from the beginning of our ministry among them. Yet, like them or not, you will be their father; care for them. And to those who are the most difficult, be the most merciful. Follow the words of St. Bernard of Clairvaux when he said: "the merciful are those who are quick to see truth in their neighbor; they reach out to others in compassion and identify with them in love, responding to the joys and sorrows in the lives of others as if they were their own."

You are being ordained on the Feast of St. Bernard. He will be the patron Saint of your priesthood. Make him a model of your spiritual life. He became embroiled in the battles of the church, fighting her enemies both from within and from without, arguing successfully against the idiosyncrasies of Peter Abelard and preaching a great crusade against the Turks that failed miserably. I have no idea what battles you will be called upon to lead or inspire, or what personal attacks you will have to endure, but whatever they are and whether you win or whether you lose, fight them all for the love of God and His church and never for yourself.

Bernard was not a fighter by desire but a man of prayer who desired solitude. He never sought fame or preferment and refused several dioceses who wanted to make him their bishop. Be a man of prayer; find time for solitude. For only in this way will people be able to see Christ in you. Above all say the divine office regularly and faithfully; it will provide the framework for the rest of your daily activities.

St. Bernard memorized whole books of scripture. Let your prayer be grounded in scripture. Don't just read your Bible; don't just study the scriptures; be immersed in them. Come to think the way their authors thought. Be another Jeremiah; pray like the psalmist, have the mind of St. Paul. St. Bernard got embroiled in the affairs of the church because he was a man of obedience. Be obedient. This is not the same thing as being a yes man, but it does mean that you must not inflict upon your people your own private prejudices tastes or preferences, either pastorally or liturgically. While you are a curate, obey your rector. If you do not agree with him, listen to your Bishop. If you cannot trust your Bishop, go to the wider authority of the whole Catholic Church, East and West. But never ever impose upon your people your own opinions or clever ideas.

Today, you are being made an Alter Christus, another Christ. Never be ashamed of that fact or try to hide it from others. Wear your clericals wherever you go. Where you dare not wear your clericals, you should not go. This means that people may be surprised to find a priest in some strange places. When I was in England, some people used to say, "Oy, he may be the local vicar but he still goes to the pubs." I had to explain to them, "I go to the pubs because I am the local vicar." I am amazed at how few priests I ever see in shops or malls or bars. I wonder where they hang out? - or is it that they think priests should only be recognized in respectable upper middle class places? Of course, there are times when you will want to wear casual clothes, especially when you are working alone or are with people who already know you are a priest, or are on vacation. But remember that you can never take a vacation from your priesthood, that in one way or another, in one form or another, you are always offering God to the people and the people to God.

The road ahead will not be easy for you. I can assure you of that. In today's second reading, St. Paul warns us that there will be many obstacles thrown across your path. Like St. Bernard you will suffer disappointments, frustrations and betrayals. There will be times when you will wonder if it is all worth it, times when you are ready to throw over the whole thing as a bad job, when you think that surely there is something more important to do, some place where your talents will be more appreciated. Lee, when these times come, stand firm. Persevere! Never give up! You are being made an Alter Christus. Allow yourself to be a sacrificial victim. In the Harry Potter books the way to the land of wizardry is from platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross station. I can assure you that the author is right when she says that at that station there is only a brick wall between platforms 9 and 10. To the uninitiated, this wall is an impenetrable barrier, but to those who are willing to take risks, and if for you no barrier is impenetrable, that wall and all other obstacles thrown across your path will be none other than the gate of heaven and the way into the salvation of your soul.

(This Ordination Sermon was preached by the Rev. Dr. John H. Heidt, SSC, Canon Theologian of the Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas on 10 Mar 2006. It was originally posted HERE.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Pietro Novelli's painting of 1641 shows Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Simon Stock, Angelus of Jerusalem, Mary Magdalene de'Pazzi, Teresa of Avila (Museo Diocesano, Palermo).

Mount Carmel is located in a richly forested area at the southern end of a long fertile valley known from ancient times for its wine and oil production. At the top of the mountain there is a view of the Mediterranean, making it a strategic site for defence of the rich land below it. There are indications that stone-age communities once lived in the caves on its side. Mount Carmel is featured in 1 Kings 8 as the place where Elijah contested the 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah.

In the Song of Solomon 7:5 the bride is compared to the beauty of this mountain, renowned for its cover of flower blossoms, flowering shrubs, and fragrant herbs. On its slopes are plentiful pastures (Isaiah 33:9, Jeremiah 50:19, Amos 1:2). Its caves in which Elijah and Elisha took refuge (1 Kings 18:19, 2 Kings 2:25) often provided shelter for monks through the ages. The Hebrew "karmel" means "garden land" and "a fruitful place."

Today’s feast recalls the foundation of the Carmelite religious order in the 12th century. The founder, Berthold, may have been a pilgrim to the area (perhaps to the cave of Elijah), or even a crusader. It is said that he came from southern France but when venturing in the Holy Land encountered fierce soldiers. He had a vision of Jesus and went to Mount Carmel. He built a small chapel there, and was soon joined by hermits who lived there in community in imitation of Elijah. After his death, it seems that St Brocard became leader of the hermits eventually leading to the establishment of the Order of Carmelites.

The Carmelites built a monastery dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, as she was "Star of the Sea" - a medieval title likening her to the cloud of life that hovers over the sea, promising rain and fertility. Throughout the monastery's long history there were periods of sadness, especially when it fell under Muslim control, becoming a mosque known as El-Maharrakah (“the place of burning”, referring to Elijah's challenge to the pagan prophets.) In the 18th century, Napoleon established the location as a hospital, but this was destroyed in 1821. Funds were collected by the Carmelites, an order worldwide by this time, and they restored the monastery.

The Carmelite Order itself has had a long and blessed history. Monasteries have been built throughout Europe and other parts of the world. Some of the greatest spiritual guides, acknowledged by Christians of all traditions, have been Carmelites. Let us pray today that Our Lady will continue to shine like a star over the sea, leading us all to her Son, and to the fruit-bearing life God intends for us now and in eternity.

O God our Father,
who didst adorn the Order of Mount Carmel
with the special title
of the most blessed Mother of thy Son,
the ever-virgin Mary:
Mercifully grant that as we remember her
in our solemn observance,
so by her intercession we may attain to everlasting joy;
through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord,
who liveth and reigneth with thee
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


High Mass at St Mary's Bourne St, London

Check out this bit of Douglass Shand Tucci's blockbuster article THE HIGH MASS AS SACRED DANCE in which he quotes Anglican spiritual guide, Evelyn Underhill (see yesterday's post). Her words (in the coloured type below) pretty well sum up the impact on me of the first High Mass I wandered into as an impressionable teenager. I am fortunate in my ministry as a priest to have served two great parishes in which this form of worship was kept going. But in most places High Mass has been swept away by those who thought they were making the Church more "relevant" to modern people.

A yearning for the dimensions of worship spoken of in the following article lies behind the current movement (often among young people!!!) to restore the transcendent and numinous which the Western Church has largely lost over the last fifty years.

Tucci's entire article, of which this is an extract, can be found HERE.
(To assist the reader, I have renumbered the endnotes.)

The distinguished Anglican scholar, Evelyn Underhill traced what could be called the graph of the Mass: from the liturgy of lessons and Gospel, "God's uttered word in History," and the Great Intercession, "the unstinting, self-spending with and for the purposes of God, by intercessory prayer," of the Offertory, where Christ, she wrote, "enters the Holy Place as the representative of man, offering the humble material of man's sacrifice, that he may come forth from it as the representative of God, bringing to man the Heavenly Food." And, finally, to the Great Thanksgiving - when the gifts of bread and wine, set apart from the natural world for the Mystery, yield - "the invisible Holy Presence; Who comes under these lowly signs into the Sanctuary with an escort of incense and lights, and is welcomed by the enraptured Alleluias of the Cherubic Hymn, announcing the Presence of God."

What better has been written of this tremendous moment of the Sanctus when "all that truly happens," she wrote, "happens beyond the rampart of the world"? Sursum corda - Lift up your hearts, sings the celebrant. "The early liturgies leave us in no doubt," she continued, "as to what this movement implied: 'To the heavenly height, the awful place of glory. . . .' This cry, and the people's response, come down to us from the earliest days of the Church." It marks, she declared, "the crossing of the boundary between natural and supernatural worship"; the knowing search for what she called "that ineffable majesty on which Isaiah looked, which is the theme of the earliest Eucharistic prayers, and which inspires the great Sanctus of the B Minor Mass, with its impersonal cry of pure adoration." This is the world communicants enter as they approach the altar rail, wrote Underhill, where "the 'Table of Holy Desires' with its cross and ritual lights stands on the very frontier of the invisible." (1)

Has anyone in our time set before architect or musician, so uncompromisingly, the task the liturgy forces upon them? As Underhill put it in another place, "movement and words combine to produce an art form which is the vehicle of [the Church's] self-offering to God and communion with God." The liturgy, she knew, is "an action and an experience that transcend the logical levels of the mind and demand an artistic rather than an intellectual form of expression." (2) The honours of the church on earth significantly describe in her text what they describe, audibly and visually, in the mass. Bach is there as well as the cherubim, on the frontier of the invisible.

She knew well the risks of the medium; she knew the dangers of depending on an imperfect art to make a perfect art-form. But she knew too that to eschew art, worship must be "thin, abstract, notional: a tendency, an attitude, a general aspiration, moving alongside human life, rather than in it." Worship thus embodied by the arts, she declared, "loses-or seems to lose-something of its purity; but only then can it take up and use man's various powers and capacities ... thus entering the texture of his natural as well as supernatural life. Certainly, it is here that we encounter the greatest danger, that form will smother spirit.... But the risk is one which man is bound to take. He is not 'pure' spirit, and is not capable of 'pure' spiritual acts .... (3)

. . . most Anglicans continue to trivialize ceremonial and even to overlook its significance. They typically bury themselves throughout the liturgy in hymnal, prayer book, or service leaflet - on the dubious premise that to read what is being said is to understand it better. This, in turn, has had disastrous effects on church lighting, which frequently overthrows every attempt of the architect to create an evocative liturgical environment . . . Modern art has also sometimes strained the principles of liturgical art severely. That these principles can survive in modern work of great originality is clear. For example, consider Jean Langlais' Messe Solennelle. Relentlessly liturgical, suggestive often of plainchant, its solemn, quiet and sometimes even lyrical texture is nonetheless so taut that when the tension erupts into Langlais' massive, fiercely impassioned dissonances, the effect is a stunning and almost numbing grandeur of sound that evokes the mysterium tremendum with an uncanny distinction.

Is the High Mass, as Cram and others have thought, humanity's "greatest artistic achievement"? Infrequently. Most church people have the erroneous impression that the very simple Low Mass is the most primitive form of Christian worship and that the solemn liturgy is a medieval elaboration. Actually, Low Mass is the medieval innovation . . .

Anglicans as well as Roman Catholics cannot be blamed for forgetting that the ancient High Mass, resplendent with lights, music, incense and full ceremonial, has always remained the theoretical norm of the western church as it is still the actual norm of eastern Christendom. (4) Forgetful of this fact, we forget another: that "art in worship is not a mere imitation of the creative work of God; nor is it only a homage rendered to Christ; by giving embodiment to invisible realities it continues the Incarnation of the Word." (5) Indeed, the Church has held that it "brings about objectively and in our very midst, the highest form of reality, the Summum Pulchrum, God Himself.' "(6) Confronted with this astonishing purpose, and the distinguished art it has yielded, the art historian can only declare that in thus reaching "beyond the rampart of the world" for what Underhill called "that ineffable majesty upon which Isaiah looked," the art of the High Mass is not only august but unparallelled.

(1) The material quoted in this and the preceding paragraph is drawn from Evelyn Underhill's The Mystery of Sacrifice: A Meditation on the Liturgy (New York, 1954), unpaged introduction and pp. 18-40. The Mystery of Sacrifice was first published in 1938.
(2) Evelyn Underhill, Worship (New York, 1936), p. 33. See also p. 29.
(3) Ibid., p. 14.
(4) Ibid., p. 245.
(5) Ibid., P. 71.
(6) Hammenstede, "The Liturgy as Art," pp. 41-42.

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Monday, July 13, 2009


For a long time I have been mystified by the control TEC maintains over churches that now should logically belong to more "local" Anglican provinces. In his latest report from TEC's General Convention, David Virtue, has a piece on this. He says:

Mrs. Katharine Jefferts Schori, at a press conference today, made the point that The Episcopal Church is not a national church, but an international church with 16 dioceses scattered around the world. (Dioceses can be found in Latin America, Central America, Asia and Europe). Now this begs the question that as we live in a post-colonial world, why are these dioceses still attached to TEC and why have they not been released to the local Anglican province where they are located? Why is the Diocese of Taiwan not affiliated to the Province of Southeast Asia? Furthermore, if TEC can have its offshore dioceses, why is it so wrong for the Anglican Province of Nigeria to have CANA on North American soil? Consistency is apparently the hobgoblin of small minds.

It is not surprising that one of the international guests at TEC's General Convention is Australian Primate Phillip Aspinall. After all - and in spite of the fact that local Anglo-Catholics generally don't like to admit it - the Anglican Church of Australia would be just like TEC in every way if it were not for the size and robustness of the Diocese of Sydney.


Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941) was a scholar, a mystic and a well-known spiritual guide. A little out of fashion at the present time, she deserves to be rediscovered by this generation!

When I was a child, we used to be taught to swim by lying across a chair on our stomachs and exercising our arms and legs in a corresponding way. It used a great deal of energy, but we ended just where we began and quite dry. When at last we were put into the sea and found it wet, salty, deep, and with no supporting chair beneath us, that correct series of movements were at first replaced by desperate struggles. But presently we found ourselves using the movements, or something like them, after all. But it was in a much less exact and deliberate way. We were swimming - badly perhaps, but really swimming!

Now many people try to learn prayer lying over a chair on dry land. They go through a correct routine, learning from a book, but end up quite dry and just where they began. But real prayer isn't just an exercise. It is an entrance into our inheritance which St. Catherine called the Great Pacific Ocean of God. So, to continue our image, the main point is to get into some new water. What one does in it - diving, quietly floating, swimming, going on long excursions, helping others who are learning, or, while we are small, just contentedly paddling - is of secondary importance. All the accumulated knowledge about swimming is of great interest, but, until we are actually in the water, we have no right idea what it means.

Real prayer begins with the plunge into the water. Our movements may then be quite incorrect, but they will be real. If we would look on prayer like that, as above all, an act in which we enter and give ourselves, our souls, to our true Patria, our ever-waiting inheritance, God "in whom we live and move and have our being," most of the muddles and problems connected with it would disappear. As 1 John 4 has already told us, "You are of God, little children." This is where we really belong, and if we will only plunge in, we shall find ourselves mysteriously at home.

And this strange home-like feeling kills the dread which might overcome us if we thought of the terrific and unknown depths beneath and the infinite extent of the power and mystery of he ocean into which we have plunged. As it is, a curious blend of confidence and entire abandonment keeps us, because of our very littleness, in peace and joy. So we continue with our limited powers in the limitless love in which we are held. What matters is the ocean, not the particular little movements which we make.

(In Ways of the Spirit p.236)

Friday, July 10, 2009


A thoughtful piece from today's Australian. Go HERE to see what I'm talking about.


This essay, by Fr Arthur Middleton, was published in New Directions, May 1999.

Gladstone at the end of the 19th century said that the task of the priest had become much more difficult than it had ever been. Today it has worsened rather than improved, in a Church that is divided and in a culture where God has been pushed out of many lives and is not given the opportunity to influence scores of others. In fact there is a rising generation in this country who do not know God because of a general decay of religion.

The number of those who profess themselves unbelievers increases and with their numbers their zeal. At the same time there is a kind of thinking in the Church that wants to reduce the priest to a mere functionary, a managing director, where administration rather than doctrine and worship are to determine the form of the Church. The evil of the Church is the doing of Church work in a spirit of business, something to be got through. The only way to avoid this is for the priest to be instant in prayer. If he is not, he will lose that touch of the supernatural without which he has no right to be a priest at all.

This touch of the supernatural is vitally necessary in the priest today, when there is so much death, despair and destruction about. In her essay on Julian of Norwich, Sister Anna Maria Reynolds OP depicts a Universal Congress of Skunks, presided over by the Supervisor of Devils, the Super-Skunk. The main item on the agenda is how to transform the Church into a perfect sacrament of pessimism. The strategy is to let Christians get away with anything so long as they destroy hope. In 1974 when the late Leslie Newbigin returned home after 40 years in India he was shocked by the lack of hope evident in this country, which was such a contrast to the hope he found in India in the midst of such atrocious conditions. Julian's hope rested on something outside herself. She wrote, "The remedy is that Our Lord is with us, keeping us and leading us into the fullness of joy; for our Lord intends this to be an endless joy, that he who will be our bliss when we are there (heaven) will be our protector while we are here, our way and our heaven in true love and trust."

Bishop Lightfoot, formerly of Durham, said that the life of one of his predecessors, Bishop Butler, was dominated by this consciousness of a divine presence at a time when there was a similar decay in religion. In his enthronement sermon Lightfoot quotes from Butler's last charge to the clergy of Durham. Here he is urging his clergy to yield themselves up to the full influence of the divine presence, and endeavour to raise up in the hearts of their people such a sense of God that reverence, love, gratitude, hope, trust and obedience will become an habitual way of living. For Bishop Butler and his kind the priest can never be reduced to a manager.

Gregory Nazianzen described the priest as a healer of men which is much more difficult than being a leader and is what is meant by the cure of souls, and the medicine of souls is more subtle than that of bodies. The Incarnation is the medicine of the soul, undoing the Fall and bringing man to the Tree of Life, and the office of a priest is to administer this medicine in the sacraments, which Richard Hooker tells us is the means wherein this medicine is given. The Church's note must be a supernatural note which distinguishes incarnation from immanence, redemption from evolution, the Kingdom of God from mere spiritual process... "The Saviour of the world was not made or moulded by the world; and the world knew, and still knows in Him a presence that must be either obeyed or destroyed. He always looked down on the world He had to save. He always viewed it from God's side, and in God's interest. He always stood for God against the men he would save". [P. T. Forsyth, Positive Preaching and the Modern Mind pp 79ff]

The priest comes in this same spirit of reconciliation, not as an obscurantist, but wearing the intelligible vestments of living faith, divine but positive, ministering in Word and Sacrament that which is humanity's hope and salvation, the divine energy in which he lives with Christ in the Father through the Holy Spirit, identified but not accommodated to the world Christ seeks to save. His vision will be Trinitarian, his theology a theology to be preached and therefore with a practical purpose, nothing less than to participate in this divine life Christ lives with the Father in the Holy Spirit, for this is salvation and makes us godlike.

The priest is entrusted with the spiritual guidance of his people who are gathered to give themselves to the collective quest for God. He becomes responsible for them and will make his mark on them, forming them according to the pattern of his own spiritual life. He is the teacher and guide, for the edification, the building-up of the Body of Christ, enabling people to see what happened to them when they were born again through water and the Spirit. We are to introduce our people into the life of the Church which is salvation, that they may grasp its meaning, its contents and purpose, to taste and see how good the Lord is. First taste, then see, that is, understand. It is edification in the knowledge of the love of God, growth into the divine likeness. A priest is the God-bearer or Christ-bearer, a living Eucharist of the divine presence, bringing a sympathetic ear and a compassionate heart in which people find God's consolation, understanding and love. He brings more than professional help and skills. He brings the loving kindness, goodness and friendship of God, that will bind up the broken-hearted and bring release to those that are captive in the variety of today's prisons.

It can never be a comfortable life-style because it brings spiritual warfare and suffering for the priest as he identifies with those who suffer, and shares the frustrations, anger, and incomprehensibility of that suffering in what it does to those who suffer. The priest shares in these struggles of his suffering people, the uncertainties it brings, the sense of divine abandonment it induces, and the loneliness caused.

Many people experience Gethsemane moments but eventually are able to say "Not mine, but Thine", even when consciousness of that divine presence must have felt as if it had been wiped out. They have the transfigured marks of their Gethsemane on them. To that extent such people know the depths of the human heart when it rejoices, admires or loves, the heart in its agonies of suffering, failure and emptiness. As priests uphold their people in prayer, so their people are to uphold them with prayer and love, for he cannot work without his people. For it is only as a priest understands in his own life the secret of "Not mine, but Thine", that he will lead his people through those Gethsemane moments into the joy of Resurrection and Transfiguration. As John Keble wrote:
What is this silent might,
Making our darkness light,
New wine our waters,
Heavenly blood our wine?
Christ with His Mother dear,
And all his saints is here,
And where they dwell is heaven,
And what they touch divine.
(Lyra Innocentium - Christ fills All Things)
People wonder what made such people like Fr. Lowder, Fr. Mackonochie, Fr. Stanton and those great slum priests such effective evangelists ? It was not in-service training on a diocesan course on evangelism. It was the touch of the divine in that union of human lives with God in the way of holiness, fundamental to the life of the Church and in the life of every priest and pastor. This is what gives to priestly ministry its supreme and special value. People saw in these great priests a self-sacrifice, devotion, and dedication that issues from men whose hearts God has touched. We don't want advisers to advisers to advisers who have never done the job - we want priests like this, and if the vacant parishes of England could be filled with such priests the Church's mission would go forward overnight.

Bishop Paget of Oxford wrote this:-
"A man's gifts may lack opportunity, his efforts may be misunderstood and resisted; but the spiritual power of a consecrated will needs no opportunity, and can enter where the doors are shut. By no fault of a man's own, his gifts may suggest to some the thoughts of criticism, comparison, competition; his self consecration can do no harm in this way. Of gifts some are best for long distances, some for objects close at hand or in direct contact; but personal holiness, determining, refining, characterising everything that a man says or does, will tell alike on those he may not know even by name, and on those who see him in the constant intimacy of his home.."
(The Hallowing of Work)

All this we gather up when in the Eucharist priest and people together come to concelebrate. Here the ladder Jacob saw only as a dream becomes for us a reality, the medicine that cures our souls. It is as Julian says, "... Our Lord with us, keeping us and leading us into the fullness of joy...our way and our heaven...", the divine presence that dominated Bishop Butler's life. For the bread which is taken, blessed, broken and shared out, is Christ, who is that ladder linking heaven and earth and on which angels ascend and descend. The place in which we celebrate becomes our Bethlehem, a house of bread in which we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, the living and the departed - those whom it is so easy to think are not with us. Here they stand with all the others urging us on as we take this bread of heaven and share with them in the life of the world to come. Here, that divine presence is able to make its home in us through the Not mine but Thine of the Son who shed his blood for us. In that bread we partake of salvation, the very likeness of God, who transforms and transfigures us into that very likeness by His divine nature in which we now live through the Son, in the life He lives with the Father in the Holy Spirit, ascribing to Him who has brought us thus far, all honour, might, majesty and power now and for ever.

Times have changed since George Herbert (1593-1633), but the principle and spirit in which he ministered as a priest remains an inspiration and model for all priests. At his Induction he resolved, "... above all, I will be sure to live well, because the virtuous life of a Clergyman, is the most powerful eloquence to persuade all that see it, to reverence and love, and at least, to desire to live like him. And this I will do, because 1 know we live in an Age that hath more need of good examples, than precepts..." In The Country Parson he describes the priest as Christ's deputy, literally a vicar, for the winning of people back to God. The dignity of a priest lies in "that a priest may do that which Christ did, and by his authority, and as his vicegerent; the duty, in that a priest is to do that which Christ did, and after his manner, both for doctrine and life." Priesthood is not a convenient, historically conditioned form of Church organisation, but is rooted in the Incarnation, in the priesthood and mission of Christ himself. Herbert's view of priesthood was ontological or non-functionalist, and is determined by what a priest is, rather than what he does. Priesthood is for ever and does not cease when a priest cannot carry out that priestly ministry.

In Herbert's time many people were disillusioned with priests and questioned the theological foundations of priesthood. Herbert thought like Hooker, Andrewes and Laud, among whom were many fine priests, whose ministries resisted the replacement of the catholic priesthood in the Church of England by a Presbyterian model. Their convictions, faithfulness and dedication, saved the Anglican priesthood from dissolution and by their own example they re-asserted its theological foundations, admitting at the same time that people had lost sight of the ideal through a shortage of living examples. Herbert was concerned that the priest live unblameably; " ... and that the dignifi'd Clergy especially, ... would ... take all occasions to express a visible humility and charity in their lives; for this would force a love and imitation, ...This... would be a cure for the wickedness and growing Atheism of our Age. ...till this be done by us, and done in earnest, let no man expect a reformation of the manners of the Laity: for 'tis not learning, but this only, that must do it; and till then, the fault must lye at our doors."

Herbert's life integrated prayer, study, teaching and pastoral care, embodying his understanding of the priest as a man of God, a teacher and pastor.

The task of a priest, in some respects, may be different today, but the principles upon which Herbert built his life as a priest are of universal application. It is best summed up by seeing it as a balance between diakonia and doulos. In service to his people, diakonia, there was always that deep relationship with God from whom everything emanated and to whom everything was offered. That relationship with God is best described by the word slave or doulos, for to be a slave meant to be possessed utterly by another, with no claims, no rights, no earnings, no independent status of one's own, and the other who thus possesses a man is God. The priest is Christ's slave, and Christ himself took the form of a slave and became obedient to death. So the priest in serving human needs lives a Godward life, possessed by God and witnessing that only when lives are utterly possessed by God do they find their true freedom.

This is the priest's message in today's world in a Post-Renaissance humanism, whose defect lies in what Maritain describes as an anthropocentric concept of man and culture. He uses the term to describe man shut up in himself and separated from Nature, Grace and God. "And for human life, for the concrete movement of history, this means real and serious amputations. prayer, evangelical virtues, supra-rational truths, sense of sin and of grace and of the Gospel's beatitudes, the necessity for self-sacrifice and ascetic discipline, for contemplation, for the means of the Cross - all this has either been stuck between parentheses or finally denied." Here the 'vertuous' life of the priest must continue to speak in a culture that devalues our full humanity.

Formerly Rector of Boldon and Canon Emeritus of Durham Cathedral in England, Canon Middleton has also been a Tutor, member of the College Council and Acting Principal of St. Chad’s College in Durham.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Sunday, July 5, 2009


Among Anglican Catholics there is a fair variety of usage when it comes to the Kalendar, Mass readings, and readings for the Divine Office. What initially appear to be idiosyncratic choices are often due simply to a lack of authoritative resources rather than any particular preference.

For many years I have used the "CHURCH UNION ORDO." It is very popular among Anglican Catholics in England; and I know Roman Catholics who use it, too. (By the way, Fr John Hunwicke has one of the best blogs in cyberspace:

Starting from this year the ORDO is being published by The Additional Curates' Society. It is available from the Shrine Shop at Walsingham for just £8.50. Click HERE to go there, making sure to scroll down the page. You can order and pay online.

Fr Hunwicke describes the ORDO:
The purpose of this ORDO is to serve the needs of both Anglicans and Roman Catholics. For the former it provides for the recitation of Morning and Evening Prayer and the celebration of Holy Communion in accordance with modern forms authorised or encouraged in the Provinces of Canterbury and York. These forms are selected, arranged, and interpreted in the the spirit of what has become generally customary in Western Christendom since the Second Vatican Council; but notes draw attention to Orthodox insights. It also provides a full Calendar according to the modern Roman Rite, together with explanatory and catechetical notes. Anglicans who prefer forms of Liturgy based on the Book of Common Prayer will find a lectionary designed for use with the BCP.