Blessings Great and Small

On 1 November 1950, His Holiness Pope Pius XII solemnly defined the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in his Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus. If you haven’t already read it, have a look at the whole document. It’s beautiful. Here’s an excerpt:

“…after we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God, and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God who has lavished his special affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honor of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of the glory of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church; by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”

That’s the reason for our celebration, and God did this because it would not be fitting that the flesh which had given Flesh to God should see corruption. The body and soul of Mary had been prepared by being immaculately conceived in the womb of her mother Anne, thus preparing the Blessed Virgin for Divine Motherhood. Now, as a result of that preparation and the fiat she gave, she has been taken – body and soul – into heaven, where she reigns as Queen.

There is another joy which is attached to this day, for me personally. On this day, twenty-eight years ago, I was ordained as a Catholic priest in the Cathedral of San Fernando, San Antonio, Texas, having served the previous seven years as an Anglican priest.

In addition to that blessed event, other developments happened which form at least a footnote in the historic development we’re witnessing now, with the establishment of the Ordinariates.

Twenty-eight years ago today, at the Mass of my ordination, the parish of Our Lady of the Atonement was established. When that happened, there was – for the very first time – a canonically erected community of Catholics which had as its purpose that of maintaining, nurturing and sharing the Anglican patrimony. It was a small beginning – a small contribution to a greater purpose – but it was historic in a way we could not have imagined a generation ago. And then, seventeen years ago on this Solemnity of the Assumption, when The Atonement Academy opened for its first day of classes, there was – again, for the first time – a Catholic institution dedicated to educating students within the context of our Anglican patrimony, with that patrimony being reflected in the intellectual and spiritual vision of the school, and in the daily liturgical life of the students.

These were small beginnings, but not inconsequential – and that they took place on this Marian solemnity shows the importance to God and to His Blessed Mother of the patrimony which is so much a part of Mary’s Dowry.

Author: Fr. Christopher Phillips

Fr. Christopher G. Phillips is the pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he has served for the past twenty-eight years. He is the founding pastor of the first Anglican Use parish, erected in 1983 under the terms of the Pastoral Provision. Fr. Phillips was ordained as an Anglican for the Diocese of Bristol, England, in 1975. After serving as Curate for three years at St. Stephen Southmead, he returned to the United States and served in two Episcopal parishes in the Diocese of Rhode Island. In 1981 he left the Episcopal Church and moved with his family to Texas, where he was subsequently ordained as a Catholic priest in 1983. Fr. Phillips and his wife, JoAnn, have been married for forty years. They have five children, all grown and married, and three grandchildren.

6 thoughts on “Blessings Great and Small”

  1. On this the feast day of The Assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary, we welcome home our Ordinariate brothers and sisters and await with open arms. May Our Lady intercede for us all that all Christians may be united in Christ!

  2. Fr Phillips-

    Congratulations to you on the anniversary of your Priesthood and to Our Lady of the Atonement parish and academy on the celebrations of their growth and achievements over the years. You are a light and inspiration to more people than you know. May God continue to bless you and give you increase for Christ's sake and for His glory!

  3. Another small seed was planted today: the Welsh Ordinariate Group was launched! It is constitued of the curate of one of the biggest Anglo-Catholic parish of the CiW and lay people from the CiW (Church in Wales, an independent province of the Anglican Communion). Those Anglo-Catholics in the CiW lost their flying Bishop (PAB, Provincial Assistant Bishop, the equivalent of the English PEVs) some years ago, and so a high number of clergy and lay people seem to be interested in the ordinariate. 2 groups are taking shape, 1 in Abergavenny, and 1 at Belmont Abbey. Perhaps one day there will be a Welsh deanery or something akin to this in the Ordinariate of OLW.
    It is extraordinary to see the second wave of ordinariate groups forming all over the country… With God's grace by next Easter the Ordinariate of OLW will double the number of its members!

  4. Father Christopher; congratulations and admiration for the anniversary of your priesthood and all that you have achieved with Our Lady of Atonement community and the academy thus far, with more goodness to come. What a beautiful post. God bless.

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