Excuse Me for Repeating Myself

The following article is a reprint of a previous post titled "Towards Unity." So many are waiting for the establishment of the next Ordinariate, and along with the wait can come a bit of discouragement. Sometimes we need a reminder of just why we're doing this, and why it's so important…

"When all things were in quiet silence and night was in the midst of her swift course, thine Almighty Word, O Lord, leaped down from heaven out of thy royal throne…" and that Word took flesh untainted by sin from the Virgin chosen from the beginning of time. It was done for the healing of that tragic rift between God and Man.

God created all things to be in perfect unity. He made the universe as a reflection of His own divine order. He created Man in His own image, to be in perfect communion with Him. But through the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve, disorder entered into the world, and perfect communion was broken. And ever since that time, there has been a tendency in the natural order of things for there to be disintegration, the breakdown of things, a crumbling. Sadly, what should be unnatural has become all too normal in the world around us, and within us, and even within the Church.

Christ founded the Church to be One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic – and so it is. But our sin has caused division, and that’s a clear contradiction to the Divine Will of our Lord. While there may well be an invisible spiritual communion deeper than we know, especially through the bonds of baptism, nonetheless there is to be a visible communion, too, because that’s the Will of Christ, and the constant invitation from God is that we work and pray to build up both the spiritual and visible unity of Christ’s Body.

It’s this purpose – the building up of unity – which is outlined at the very beginning of Pope Benedict’s Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus. In fact, this stated purpose is sometimes glossed over in our search for the particulars of the Personal Ordinariates. We tend to look at the details of how they’ll be established, and of who can belong, and of what the liturgy will be like, and of who can be ordained – indeed, any number of other details.

But all that neglects the reason for the Holy Father’s great generosity: and that is, to help bring about the prayer of Christ “that they all may be one.” It’s not accidental that the first three paragraphs of the Apostolic Constitution speak of the Church as “a people gathered into the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” and that the Church was instituted by Christ as “a sacrament…of communion with God and of unity among all people,” and that this Church is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him. Then, recognizing that there are “many elements of sanctification and of truth [which] are found outside her visible confines,” he says that these “are forces impelling towards Catholic unity.”

What had been broken, the Holy Father is inviting us to repair. The communion that has been impaired, he asks us to restore. The fellowship which has been strained, he asks us to strengthen.

God’s Incarnate Love came into this world by Our Lady’s “yes,” and it would gladden her heart for her children to be one again. She, who stood beside the Cross and saw her Son in agony, would be comforted by us taking away this pain of separation. There are few things that touch a mother’s heart more, than to see her whole family together at one table. This is why the Holy Father has given us the Apostolic Constitution: so that we can put division behind us, and join together with one voice and one heart in “that most holy cause, the preaching of the Gospel” to the whole world.

“Lord Jesus, make us one, as you and the Father are one.” Amen.

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.

5 thoughts on “Excuse Me for Repeating Myself”

  1. Dear Father: Peace !!!

    Excellent " speech ", I don't know how I missed that before, really, I believe it is important to go back all the time to the true reasons for the unity….sometimes I get the impressions, due to the fact of some writtings, that there are wrong ideas about why we should be in union with Rome….and specially how to proceed to achieve that unity……great article , congratulatons. Fr. Ben Pardo

    1. Dear Fr. Phillips,

      Please excuse me/us for forgetting. It is always darkest before the dawn. Thank you for repeating yourself, and reminding me/us to see with the eyes of faith the unity that the light of Christ brings. May Our Lady continue to pray for both the invisible and the visible unity of us all.

  2. And as if to underscore what Fr Phillips, as it were, has reiterated in bold, on the same day comes both the news of the forthcoming reception of the Fort Worth group (St Peter the Rock) and the reminder that the National Capitol Area congregation (St Luke, Bladensburg) is to follow! The delivery is near: What we are going through now are the birth pangs.

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