Aidan Nichols: The Ordinariates, the Pope, and the Liturgy

Fr. Aidan Nichols has made available the text of the talks he delivered at the Anglicanorum coetibus Conference in Canada. They appeared first on the Ordinariate Portal, and are offered here for your interest and discussion.

Part I may be found here.

Part II may be found here.

Here is the text of Part III (or read it on the Ordinariate Portal):

But when they come, how will they worship? Here we must treat of the Ordinariates and the question of the Liturgy. Most (suitably informed) people when they hear the phrase ‘the liturgical patrimony of Anglicanism’ will think among other things of robed choirs, harvest festivals, change-ringing, and the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols at King’s College, Cambridge. Above all, however, they will think of Thomas Cranmer. But precisely this causes a problem, not merely because Queen Mary’s judiciary had him burned as a heretic but also (and more especially) because, for recent scholarship, Cranmer belongs firmly in the camp of the Protestant Reformers not least when it comes to his liturgical creations. Cranmer wrote masterly prose, solemn, though with a tenderness the more poignant for being occasional. Many of his phrases have passed over into the common treasury of the English language, and his better known prayers, or echoes of them, have come to mind for thousands of English people at critical moments of life. But the transposition of his work into a Catholic setting is deeply problematic, above all in what concerns his Order of worship for the Eucharist, since it is in the Eucharistic Order, as I’ve already had occasion to mention in connexion with Pope Benedict’s theology, that the heart of Christian Liturgy consists.

There can be little doubt that the Order of Holy Communion in the English Prayer Book tradition – starting with 1549, and moving through 1552 to 1559 where some slight recovery of Catholic ground was modestly extended in 1662 – is hostile to ideas of Eucharistic Sacrifice and even Eucharistic Presence. At the high point of radical Protestant influence, under Edward VI, it appears to have been because Bishop Stephen Gardiner of Winchester, a conservative on the Edwardine bench of bishops, argued that the First Prayer Book was susceptible of a Catholic interpretation that Cranmer determined to embark on making a more thorough job of it in 1552. The great Anglo-Catholic liturgiologist Dom Gregory Dix describes in the final chapter of his The Shape of the Liturgy his own dismay on looking into the context of the two Edwardine Prayer Books in Cranmer’s other theological writings. ‘[I]t is only painfully and with reluctance that have brought myself to face candidly some of the facts here set out, and I cannot but fear that they will bring equal distress to others’.[1] The benign view of Cranmer’s liturgical revision taken by most High Churchmen (though isolated critical voices had never been completely lacking), and, after the Oxford Movement, by ‘Prayer Book Catholics’, was, so Dix concluded, historically unsustainable. For Cranmer the Eucharist was instituted by Christ not so that his death might be offered to the Father but with the simple aim of its being remembered by us. The Second Prayer Book is the Eucharistic counterpart of the magisterial Protestant doctrine of justification by faith alone: in Dix’s words ‘the only effective attempt ever made to give liturgical expression to [that] doctrine’.[2] Or as the then bishop of Ebbsfleet, Andrew Burnham, writes in his highly appealing study of the Liturgy, Heaven and Earth in Little Space, Cranmer was concerned to ‘consecrate the congregation and not the eucharistic elements’.[3]

All this explains the rise of the Anglo-Catholic demand for the supplementation of the English Prayer Book and indeed its quasi-replacement by some version of the Western Missal. As to its content, the demand was doctrinally motivated, though it often took the form of a legal argument – namely, that the proper authorities of the two provinces of the mediaeval Church which formed the Ecclesia anglicana, the Convocations of Canterbury and York, had neither initiated the Prayer Books nor even authorized them except in the sense that they advised the clergy to make use of what was sometimes referred to as ‘the Parliamentary book’.

The problem was not the Divine Office, the daily offices of Mattins and Evensong, which were generally regarded as successful adaptations to congregational worship of the ancient Offices of Matins and Lauds, on the one hand, Vespers and Compline, on the other: offices that had become in the mediaeval period mainly the occupation of monastics and cathedral canons. Nor were the ‘occasional offices’ a difficulty, except in so far as the Burial Service omitted any explicit intercession for the souls of the departed (admittedly, not a minor matter). The stumbling-block was the rite of Holy Communion, but since this was absolutely central in the Tractarian programme for a reinvigorated Church life, it became in time not a hurdle to be surmounted but a road-block requiring a diversion from the route. Doubts intensified as to whether the original Tractarians had been right in regarding the Prayer Book as fit for use when considered as a manual of Catholic prayer. After the anti-ritual legislation of the mid-Victorian era – the 1874 Public Worship Regulation Act, which saw the imprisonment of Catholic-minded clergy convicted of so-called ‘ritual offences’, for periods lasting from four months to a year – Anglo-Catholics sat ever more lightly to the Prayer Book regime. They were increasingly willing to import prayers from the Sarum Missal, or even the Roman Missal as used by Latin Catholics of their own period, especially sections of the Roman or – as they sometimes termed it, with reference to its putative early history – the ‘Gelasian’ or ‘Gregorian’ Canon. In this way they hoped to make good the deficiencies of the Prayer Book liturgy seen as an instrument for celebrating the Eucharistic Sacrifice with, as the fruit of the consecration, the Real Presence. Where congregations might grow restive on hearing hitherto unknown and technically illegal adjustments to the Book, the added prayers were recited silently, or at any rate in a low voice.

Continue reading "Aidan Nichols: The Ordinariates, the Pope, and the Liturgy"

Fr. Aidan Nichols: Pope Benedict and His Vision

The Ordinariate Portal now has the second talk delivered at the Canadian Conference by Fr. Aidan Nichols.

Part Two: Pope Benedict and his vision

I began Part One of this article by using in a not very flattering fashion that great image from biblical revelation, the Ark of Noah. But Noah’s Ark can stand for more than the indefinitely pluralistic ecclesiastical zoology of the Anglican Church. It can and should stand, as it has in the Liturgies and among the orthodox divines down the ages, for the ship of salvation set on chaos waters by the hand of God. Catholics identify that ship with the Barque of Peter, since, they maintain, the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ subsists in the (Roman) Catholic Church. Certainly, Pope Benedict has behaved as though the vessel onto which he was inviting so many otherwise possibly reluctant passengers was a true Ark of Noah, raised on the waters of relativism, secularism and (we may add) militant Islam which, in so many parts of the world, threaten to engulf the Christian faithful. I believe that a good deal in various policies the Pope has initiated or at least sustained can be illuminated if we suppose him to regard himself as (despite his humility) a Noah-figure, placed by Providence in a unique office at a singular cross-roads in human affairs.

Read the whole transcript.

Fr. Aidan Nichols on the Ordinariates

Over on the Ordinariate Portal, you'll find the transcript of Fr. Aidan Nichols' talk on "The Theological Context of the Ordinariates," which he delivered at the recent Conference in Canada.


When Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto invited me to come to Canada in March 2011, so as to speak at a conference he had organized on Anglicanorum coetibus for prospective members of the proposed Canadian Ordinariate, he asked me to address three questions: the theological context of the document, its place in the wider vision of Pope Benedict, and the topic of the Liturgy. This 3-part article revisits the substance of what I said on that occasion, and reworks it into a fuller whole.[1]

Part One: The theological context of the Ordinariates

In connexion with Anglicanorum coetibus, what, to my mind, the term ‘theological context’ principally means is its historical-theological context. To be sure, a formal ecclesiological account of the Apostolic Constitution could no doubt be provided, taking its inspiration from the document’s preamble with its doctrinal meditation on the nature of the Church (and notably the Church’s unity) and making particular reference to the case of ‘those Anglican faithful who desire to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church in a corporate manner’ (Anglicanorum coetibus, Introduction). But to put living flesh on the skeletal canonico-ecclesiological structure the text lays out, it is necessary, I believe, to think through theologically the issues raised by the historical background.

Read the whole transcript here.

The Cracked Jar – Healing the Western Church

An article by Peregrinations, from his blog.

At the Canadian Ordinariate Conference this weekend, Fr. Aidan Nichols, OP was enormously helpful in his patient and scholarly explanation of how the Church in England, and by extension the Anglican Communion, experienced trauma – the “breaking of the jar” – in the 16th century Western schism of the Church. Now the difficult and groundbreaking effort of mending the jar has begun with the inauguration of ordinariates for Anglicans who represent one shard of the broken vessel.

The inauguration in January of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in the UK signifies, Fr. Nichols said, bringing the Anglican shard together with the Recusant shard – those who maintained communion with the Western or Latin Rite of the Church from the 16th through the 20th century.

In his presentations at the conference and just before the celebration of the first-ever Anglican Use Mass in Canada by Fr. Phillips of San Antonio, the esteemed Dominican scholar and godfather of the Anglican Ordinariates laid out a magisterial view of how the coming together of Latin and Anglo Catholics in the UK is a landmark event embodying the grace of God in the restoration of Catholicism – an eschatalogical sign and foreshadowing of the Parousia, when all will be restored and united in God.

Using the image of the end of time and the fulfillment which is embodied in the Parousia, Fr. Nichols evoked and expanded upon the theme of healing at this historic gathering of Anglicans and Catholics from Canada, the UK, US and Australia. Hosted by Archbishop Collins of Toronto, the meeting allowed time for reflection upon the unfolding process for the erection of North American ordinariates.

While acknowledging the many and various reasons for this call of God to Anglicans articulated by Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Collins emphasized that Anglicanorum Coetibus is a response to requests made to the Holy See over the past 40 years by groups of Anglicans desiring to be received into the full communion of the Catholic Church with essentials of their patrimony intact. The groundbreaking Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus, provides for just such a reception. Aspects of the document were examined and the process laid out for individual reception of Anglicans within groups in Canada.

After careful instruction and examination of conscience, individuals will apply for reception as members of identifiable groups or parishes. This process in Canada will continue in a material and programmatic way after May 31 when the initial number of groups and individuals has been determined. In the Fall, the first wave of groups will begin final preparation for reception. Other groups and individuals will follow when they are ready. It was emphasized that there is no “sell before date”, so the offer for entry into full communion will remain open indefinitely. As one delegate put it, this constitution, the highest level of law in the Church, is for the ages.

Anglican deacons, priests and bishops will be individually assessed by the Holy See after submission of dossiers to determine what ministry they may be called to in the new ordinariates. Some married clergy may be ordained as deacons and some later as priests following their initial reception into ordinariates. Only celibate men will be considered for ordination as bishops in keeping with the universal practice of the Church in the East and West.

Fr. Nichols outlined the ecclesiology. This representative group of Anglican Catholics coming back into full communion with the Latin (Roman) Church represents the totality of Anglicans and is a sign of restoration, healing and hope in the universal Church and so in the Kingdom of God. It is a healing for both parts of the Church and will stand as an encouragement to Lutherans and many other Christians who long to fulfill our Lord’s prayer “that they all may be one”.

Fr. Christopher Phillips, pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement, in his two presentations outlined how the Anglican Use parishes in the U.S. over the past 30 years, have shown that the Anglican patrimony once received into the Catholic Church finds its natural home and begins to flourish to the benefit of those coming into full communion and to the wider Catholic Church. The cross-pollination that is accomplished embellishes and strengthens the witness to Christ by the Church, even as it offers healing and so enlivens the wider society and culture.

This exciting new enterprise has been blessed in San Antonio and elsewhere with dynamic growth. The Church of Our Lady of the Atonement has grown exponentially, adding two schools to a parish which now contains hundreds of families.

Archbishop Collins concluded the conference, enthusiastically endorsing the development of a Canadian Ordinariate in close association with U.S. Anglican Use parishes as they move into the U.S. Ordinariate within the next year. He described the gift that Anglican patrimony is to the wider Church and then laid out details for the first steps in implementation. The three speakers then concluded the conference with a panel responding to questions. The panel and the various presentations were recorded by Salt and Light TV and will be available from them soon.

In terms of the Anglican Church of Canada, two groups are hoping to be received into the Anglican Ordinariate upon its establishment by the CDF: the parish of St John the Evangelist, Calgary, and the first Toronto ordinariate group has just put up a website and will soon announce a location to begin meetings on Sunday afternoons.

Canadian Ordinariate Conference

I arrived back in San Antonio last night (Saturday) just after 10 p.m., after the Anglicanorum coetibus Canadian Conference in Toronto. The folks in the archdiocese had everything organized beautifully, and the 150 or so of us who gathered at the Queen of Apostles Retreat Center had a great time together. This was my first time to visit Canada, and I was delighted to meet so many with whom I have corresponded and talked to by phone, and it was wonderful to make many new friends, too. I want to get some of my initial impressions and thoughts posted before I get taken up with my Sunday duties here at the parish.

Archbishop Thomas Collins is a very gracious and attentive host, and he’s really the perfect choice for getting Anglicanorum coetibus implemented in Canada. It’s apparent that he understands the historic and pastoral importance of this, and he stated many times that he wants to do everything necessary to help establish a solid foundation for the Canadian Ordinariate – and he wants this to be as soon as possible. As he said in some of his remarks, “We don’t want to dither over this!”

Obviously, there are some practical things to be done in preparation, and those things necessarily take a bit of time, but there won’t be any time wasted. He has set May 31st as the date when he would like to have the information about how many want to enter the Ordinariate, and he will immediately get that information to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, so things can be set in motion for the formal establishment of the Ordinariate.

The largest number of those at the Conference were from the (TAC) Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, but there was a good number from the Anglican Church of Canada, too. I had the opportunity to make a couple of presentations, using our experience in the Pastoral Provision as a starting-point to speak about many of the practical and spiritual challenges and opportunities there will be when the Ordinariate is erected. Fr. Aidan Nichols’ presentations on the theological and liturgical foundation were truly inspired and inspiring, as he helped us look at the vision of Pope Benedict XVI.

A bit of history was made, too. On Friday evening, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, we celebrated an Anglican Use Mass. This was a “first” for Canada, and they really pulled out all the stops for the occasion – fabulous music, a beautiful church in which to celebrate, followed by a lovely reception where the wine flowed freely… Anglican patrimony at its best!

All the presentations will be available on video very soon, since Salt + Light recorded it.

Here are a few pictures, stolen shamelessly from Deborah Gyapong. Since I was busy as a participant, I wasn’t able to take pictures, so I’m following that tried-and-true principle of asking for forgiveness rather than permission.

Archbishop Thomas Collins
Anglican Use Mass at St. Joseph's, Streetsville

Preparing for the Canadian Ordinariate

Archbishop Thomas C. Collins of Toronto has been working to get everything ready for the implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus in Canada. As the Delegate appointed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the archbishop has organized a conference for all those who are interested in becoming part of the Ordinariate when it is erected, and the response has been very strong. Here is the schedule:

Anglicanorum Coetibus Conference – March 24-26, 2011

Thursday, March 24, 2011
4:00 p.m.
Registration opens

7:00 p.m.
Welcome: Archbishop Thomas Collins
Evening Prayer

7:45 p.m.
Opening Session: Father Christopher Phillips: "Becoming One"

9:00 p.m.
Wine/cheese reception

Friday, March 25, 2011
8:00 a.m.

9:00 a.m.
Morning Prayer

9:30 a.m.
Father Phillips: "Living the Anglican Patrimony"

10:30 a.m.

10:45 a.m.
Father Aidan Nichols:
“The Theological Context of Anglicanorum Coetibus”

12:00 p.m.

1:30 p.m.
Father Nichols:
"The Place of Anglicanorum Coetibus in Pope Benedict's Vision”

2:45 p.m.

3:15 p.m.
Father Nichols:
"Liturgical dimensions of Anglicanorum Coetibus"

5:30 p.m.

6:45 p.m.
Buses to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church

7:30 p.m.
Anglican Use Mass celebrated by Fr. Christopher Phillips
(held at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Streetsville)
(Reception to follow in parish hall)

Saturday, March 26, 2011
8:00 a.m.

9:00 a.m.
Morning Prayer

9:30 a.m.
Archbishop Thomas Collins:
"Anglicanorum Coetibus in Canada"

10:30 a.m.

10:45 a.m.
Panel Discussion
"The Path Ahead"

12:00 p.m. Lunch & Adjournment

Keynote speakers include:

• Fr. Christopher Phillips, Pastor, Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas. He is the founding pastor of the first Anglican Use parish, erected in 1983 under the terms of the Pastoral Provision.

• Archbishop Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, Delegate, Anglicanorum Coetibus in Canada (as appointed by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith).

• Father Aidan Nichols, O.P. has the honorary status of Affiliated Lecturer in the University of Cambridge. He has also taught at the Pontifical University of St Thomas, Rome; St Mary's College, Oscott; and Blackfriars Hall, Oxford. He has published some thirty books, and over seventy articles.

Bishop Moyer's Address at "Becoming One" Kansas City

Bishop David Moyer of the Traditional Anglican Communion has just forwarded the text of his address at this weekend's "Becoming One" gathering in Kansas City.

* * *

It is indeed a great honor to be here and to have been asked by Father Davis to speak this evening.

Our paths first crossed in the early 1980’s on a Cursillo weekend in the Episcopal Diocese of New York. I was one of the three spiritual directors for that Cursillo when Fr. Ernie was a Cursillista.

It was a little over a year ago that we reconnected, and I was thrilled to learn of the path of Ernie guided by the Holy Spirit. We all travel in different ways, and respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit at different times; but (and here I am preaching to the Choir) we know that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit both to empower and unite Apostles and disciples from Pentecost until He comes again with power and great glory.

I was raised as what I would call a “Broad Church Episcopalian.” In my childhood parish in Somerville, New Jersey, the Eucharist gradually moved from being a once a month main service celebration with “Solemn High Morning Prayer” (with the elevation of the cash!) for the other Sundays of the month to being the principal Service. It was dignified and reverent, and the beauty and power of the Prayer Book’s language took deep root in me.

I first felt a call to the priesthood at the age of fourteen through the holiness of the Rector of our parish. I would arrive in the sacristy on Sundays at about 7:15AM to serve as his acolyte for the 8:00AM Service of Holy Communion. (I arrive at everything early, and am a bit of a punctuality freak.)

Upon arriving in the sacristy, I would always see the Rector kneeling at the communion rail in silent prayer. I had no idea how long he had been there in prayer. He would rise from his knees ten minutes before the Service; would step into the sacristy in silence; put on his vestments; lead a prayer of preparation, and then to the Altar we went.

I was not in any way put off by his silence and refusal to engage in pre-Service conversation. I knew unconsciously that what he was about and what we would be corporately about was very serious, and very holy. I wanted to be like him.

I embraced the Anglo-Catholic tradition when in seminary through my attendance at the Church of the Ascension, Chicago – where I first experienced Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament (which took a mystical grip on me, especially in the silent moments of Adoration), and also through my two years of field education work at a parish in the western suburbs of Chicago under the tutelage of a fine priest who had been raised Southern Baptist in Texas, and who described his “conversion” to Anglo-Catholicism as “swallowing the hook, line, and sinker – Mass, Mary, and Confession!”

Continue reading "Bishop Moyer's Address at "Becoming One" Kansas City"

The February Issue of The Portal Is Online

The February issue of The Portal is online with coverage of the ordinations, a letter from the Ordinary, a call for a February 22 Holy Hour, and much more.

This issue's table of contents includes:

LEAD STORY – Historic Events
News – Westminster Cathedral
Snapdragon – Freshest Expression of Catholic Faith
Recusant Martyr – Saint Robert Southwell
Anglican Luminary – George Herbert
Ordinary’s Page – Fr Keith Newton: It has begun!
Aidan Nichols OP – What I think about the Ordinariate
Historic Events – Photo Gallery
Fr Peter’s Page – At the Heart of the Ordinariate

Read it here.>>>

Bishop Moyer's Report on Newman Beatification

Bishop Moyer, the Episcopal Visitor to the TAC Province in Great Britain, has sent The Anglo-Catholic this wonderful report from the recent Beatification Mass of John Henry Cardinal Newman.  He and fellow TAC bishop Robert Mercer were VIP guests along with a number of Church of England bishops and clergy.

* * *

We all have had events and experiences in life that have been etched into our souls – both good and bad experiences.  Our gracious and loving God can bring healing and redemption to the bad, and more light and life to the good.

Rita and I know that our experience at the Papal Mass for the Beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman in Cofton Park (outside of Birmingham, England) has been etched for good into our souls.

After an overnight flight to London’s Heathrow Airport, we took the London Underground from Paddington Station to King’s Cross where we caught a train to Birmingham.  On Sunday morning, we and Bishop Robert Mercer received hotel wake-up calls at 4:30 AM; taking a taxi at 5:20 AM for the ride to the coach (bus) park where security checks were made for the pilgrims to the Beatification.  There we met up with Bishop John and Judy Broadhurst, and other Church of England clergy and their wives with whom we have been friends for several years.

It was a cold and rainy morning.  Upon arriving at Cofton Park, we were led to VIP seats front and center before the huge stage and Altar where the words from Cardinal Newman’s Coat of Arms, “Heart Speaks to Heart,” had been stenciled on the walls on either side of the Altar.  We stood around for four hours waiting for the arrival of the Pope and the Mass at 10:00AM. At 9:30AM, security helicopters swirled above, and barriers were put in place for his motorcade.  When the Pope, Benedict XVI arrived, the sun came out and the rain stopped!

The Mass was beautifully done with rich organ and orchestral music, along with two massive volunteer choirs on either side of the Altar.  The many thousand pilgrims sang two hymns whose words had been written by Newman, “Praise to the Holiest in the height,” and “Firmly I believe,” and also John Keble’s “The Lord who left the heavens.” The Mass concluded with “For all the saints.”  When the Papal motorcade left Cofton Park, the sun went back in! I’m serious.

On Monday morning, Rita and I took a train from Birmingham to Cambridge where we did some sight-seeing, and met with Fr. Aidan Nichols, OP at the Black Friars Priory on Tuesday morning.  We then took the train from Cambridge to London where we were warmly hosted with supper and the guest room in the lovely home of Bishop John and Judy Broadhurst.  We left Heathrow on Wednesday at 12:30PM and arrived in Philadelphia at 3:30PM.

Thank you for your prayers for our safe travel and health.


* * *

L to R: Bishop Broadhurst, Rita Moyer, Bishop Moyer, Bishop Mercer
Newman Beatification Altar
The Holy Father arrives!
Tu es Petrus!

Report from +Ebbsfleet Book Launch

The Anglo-Catholic has received the following report from yesterday evening's launch event at Pusey House for Heaven and Earth in Little Space, Bishop Andrew Burnham's new book on the re-enchantment of Catholic liturgy.

* * *

Bishop Andrew Burnham this evening launched his new book, Heaven and Earth in Little Space (Canterbury Press), at a reception at Pusey House, Oxford.  Fr Jonathan Baker, Principal of Pusey House and author of the Introduction, welcomed the bishop and guests – including Fr Aidan Nichols OP who contributed the Foreword – and paid tribute to the new publication and its author.  The bishop then thanked those who had been involved with the production of the book, especially Fr Baker and Fr Nichols, and invited all present to continue to consider how Anglo-Catholicism might contribute to the future of the liturgical life of the wider Church.

Others present included Mr Stephen Parkinson (Director of Forward in Faith), Canon Robin Ward (Principal of S. Stephen’s House), and a number of local Anglican and Catholic clergy and laity.