Thursday, April 24, 2014

ORDINARIATES, PROTESTANTS AND THE NEW EVANGELIZATION


Fr. Longnecker, former Anglican

In light of the recent conversion of Swedish Lutherans and others, Fr. Dwight Longnecker's March article entitled: 


"A NEW ECUMENISM -  Anglican Ordinariate Presents an 'End Point' to Catholic-Anglican Dialogue and Could Include Other Denominations," 

makes the following points about the ecumenical role of the (Anglican) Ordinariates in the NEW EVANGELIZATION 


"Benedict XVI’s Anglican Ordinariate scheme was something sudden, solid and stupendous. It can be compared to Ronald Reagan’s decision that the Russian regime was about to fall, and his call “Mr Gobachev. Tear down this wall!” Reagan’s decision to stop talking and take action knocked over the first domino. Likewise, Benedict XVI’s erection of the Anglican Ordinariate may well be the first domino to fall in the eventual realignment within Christianity.


This is because the Anglican Church has always been a kind of bridge between Protestantism and Catholicism. Many Evangelical Protestant begin following Christ in Baptist churches or independent ‘house churches’. Once they begin to study the faith more they are often drawn to liturgical worship and the historic church. Typically they would migrate to more formal churches like the Methodist or Presbyterian and often they would continue to ‘come up higher’ by moving to the Lutheran or Anglican traditions.


In the past they would find in these churches the simple faith of the Apostles combined with liturgical worship and ancient traditions that were derived from the fullness of the Catholic faith. Now, however, when these conservative believers try an Episcopal or Lutheran church they are likely to find a woman minister, homosexual marriage, radical theology and left wing politics. 



Because of their upbringing they are still very biased against the Catholic Church, but should they enter a Catholic Church they may very well find the same liberalism they found in the Episcopal Church combined with the honky tonk music, dumbed down religion and wishy washy self help teaching they ran away from in Evangelicalism. If they don’t encounter these sad phenomena in American Catholicism they are likely to be met with elements of ‘cultural Catholicism’ which they find alien and unattractive.


This is exactly why the Anglican Ordinariate congregations will become the first light of the new ecumenism. They will not be only a refuge for disenchanted Anglicans who want to keep their lovely old traditions, but they will be a door through which many other Protestants can come into the Catholic Church and feel at home. 


The Anglican Ordinariate may also be the first light of a new ecumenism because the new model established by the Holy Father could be a stepping stone for other Ordinariates. If an Anglican Ordinariate is the answer for Catholic-minded Anglicans, why not a Lutheran Ordinariate for Catholic minded Lutherans or even a Methodist Ordinariate for Catholic minded Methodists? If this is not a realistic scenario, then it would certainly be realistic for Catholic minded Christians in these other denominations to enter the Anglican Ordinariate as converts. 


Furthermore, what is even more exciting is that if we look to the East, the Ordinariate could provide a creative model for groups of Eastern Orthodox to come into full communion while retaining their patrimony and a measure of autonomy. If this opens up, then the Ordinariate will turn out to be the most promising initiative of this papacy. Through the Ordinariate we will see stunning progress of the Great Re-alignment through which those who believe Christianity is a divinely revealed religion (rather than a human construct) may come together as one flock under one shepherd.


Finally, the new ecumenism is not a dismissal of the old. ARCIC and the other instruments of discussion and concord between the Catholic Church and other Christians will continue to have their uses. The great difference is now they have a real and concrete end point for discussion. Real progress has been made. There are real, positive ways for non Catholics who have come to agreement with Rome, to come into full communion, bringing their own traditions with them.

Fr. Longenecker's blog, radio show, books  at: www.dwightlongenecker.com 

Blog: Standing on My Head

Ulf Ekman, former Protestant Megachurch Pastor : ‘We need what the Lord has given to the Catholic Church to live fully as Christians’

Ulf and Birgitta Ekman are greeted by Pope Francis

An article in the 'Catholic Herald' by Luke Coppen quotes the former leader of a huge Protestant congregation in Sweden, Ulf Ekman:


“[My wife] Birgitta and I have in recent days sensed the Lord’s leading, urging us to join the Catholic Church. This may seem a very radical step. But we have great peace and great joy in this decision.


“Now,” he continued, “you may be thinking: ‘Boy, that’s the worst thing I’ve heard for a long time…’” 


" . . .  What happened to me personally around 1998… our local congregation grew a lot. It was a phenomenal growth, actually. The Bible school grew. We started missions work in 1989 into the Soviet Union. We see that there are now around 1,000 congregations that we have a relationship that came out of this missions work. I came to feel the need for a more dogmatic, theological background and more stability. I also saw the need for more understanding of ecclesial structure. So I was challenged to get to know the essence of the Church. We saw the progress and the advancement and we were involved in so many different projects. Everything was going very well. But there was this dissatisfaction about what is the Church really? I couldn’t get away from this question. It just kept coming back to me again and again and again.


. . . Something in this made me dissatisfied. It challenged me to look more at: OK, what is the ground of the Church, what is the rock bottom, where is authority coming from really? And that led me to the sacraments."


. . . so we started to emphasize [Holy Communion] more, teaching more about the Real Presence, the Lord actually being in Communion, in the bread and in the wine. Of course, that leads you on to other questions.


. . . What happened, as I said, around 1998 was really a quest for what the Church really is. For me it was an existential and an ecclesiological question: what are we really doing? What are we really part of? And where does this lead us? What will happen to the free church movement 100 or a 150 years from now? How come that the historic churches, especially the Catholic Church, seemed to keep on going? It was an understanding of the stability and historicity of the Church that intrigued me. As I started to study this, especially ecclesiology, there’s no way you can study that without coming into contact with the Catholic Church. So I discovered one thing after another.


. . .My basic question was: is this true or not? If this is true, then I have to act. If this is not true, then it will go away. But it was becoming more and more, not just a personal truth, but that there was truth here that I have to relate to. Then, of course, there was the question about my family. We have four sons and they are all grown, so they can handle this in a good way. But then there is the realisation that if this is true and the Lord is calling me, then I have to step down. We’ve lived by faith when it comes to our finances all our lives, so of course the Lord will take care of us. But here in Uppsala there were 3,300 people [in the congregation] and some of them would probably feel let down, and I wanted to handle this in a proper way as much as I can. 


. . . How did you feel just before you announced the news to the congregation?I was, of course, a bit nervous. But I had talked to a number of small groups of leaders within our congregation for about two weeks before the initial announcement. So I was a little bit accustomed to it. But of course going there and knowing that some of these people would be shocked, it’s a special feeling. I’m a pastor. I love the people and I’ve been with them for 30 years, so I don’t take it lightly at all. I’m not flippant about this. I think it’s a serious position. But I felt a calm come over me as I stood there. I could really sense that this was in God’s hands. If he was leading us he would also take care of our dear congregation. We really love them a lot and think they are wonderful.


. . . What are you most looking forward to about being a Catholic?The sacramental life. That is what I’ve been longing for. When I started to question the essence of the Church, it was authority, the sacraments and unity. Those are the three things that draw us to the Church. I’ve always had a strong sentiment for the sacraments, but when I started to discover what they really are and how they work I felt really on the outside looking in. I had a longing to participate in and to draw life from the sacraments in a way that I’ve not been able to do. Seeing that, I also saw what was lacking in our way of doing Communion. So I would say that the fullness that the Lord has put in the Catholic Church – that is what I discovered and long for.


. . . You said you’ve received a word from the Lord: “The task is fulfilled but the friendship remains.”


I said that to the church on that Sunday. I felt that – a relief that this time is now over. But I do feel that the reason for being drawn into the Catholic Church is that I need – we need – what the Lord has given to the Catholic Church to live fully as Christians. That is why we want to be part of the Catholic Church.




Monday, April 21, 2014

The New "Occasional Services" book for the Ordinariates is published and widely available now.

Here is some background on the new "Occasional Services" for the Ordinariates around the world.  The rites for weddings and funerals have been revised and approved for use by the Holy See incorporating the best of Anglican patrimony into a fully Catholic use of the Western Rite in conformity with all Catholic norms.

The books are now available and will be used in every Ordinariate parish and mission around the world affirming the unity of faith and liturgical practice.

By early next year the revised Ordinariate Missal will be published at which time the temporary missals will be replaced and pew missals will be developed for congregations following the norms and permissible options.

Divine Worship - Occasional Services
CTS

Divine Worship - Occasional Services

Holy Matrimony and the Order of Funerals
Format: Leather bound, smyth sewn, gilt edges and 2x 6mm ribbons
Dimensions: 24cm by 17cm
ISBN : 9781860828775
Number of Pages: 160 
Usually shipped within 48 hours
Publication Date: 27 Mar 2014
Average Rating: No reviews yet.
Product Code: D762'
For use by: Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham (United Kingdom), Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter (USA), Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross (Australia).

The Order for the celebration of Holy Baptism and confirmation for adults and older children, the rite of infant baptism, Holy Matrimony and the Order of Funerals, approved by the Congregation for Divine Worship for the Ordinariates established under the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus.

This beautifully bound ritual edition is produced in bonded leather with gilt edges with two ribbons.

The text also includes readings in the RSV 2nd Catholic Edition for use at weddings and funerals.

• The first Liturgical book authorised for the Ordinariates using adapted texts from the Book of Common Prayer.


• Contains readings for the occasions in RSV version of the Bible.

.

£40.00


Easter Homily - The City of God

EASTER HOMILY 2014

Alleluia, Christ is risen!

The first witnesses at the tomb of Jesus in the city of Jerusalem proclaimed, to their peril, that the same Jesus who had been brutally put to death and buried was, by the power of God, alive again in the very city in which he had been executed.

He was not vaguely “with God,” nor had his soul escaped from his body. He was not an angel as people sentimentally say at funerals these days. He had not risen in a purely symbolic sense. No, he, Jeshoua, a Jewish man from Galilee, the rabbi and friend whom they knew, was alive again in Jerusalem.

What they and all Jewish people expected for the righteous dead at the end of time had happened, in time, to this particular person, to Jesus whom they and we have come to recognize as Christ, the anointed one. This reality gave energy and power to the first Christian proclamation of the resurrection, which spread, rapidly through the world.

Jesus’ apostles and disciples began telling everyone in the city that something new and astounding had happened and that the city of Jerusalem and the world would never again be the same.

Author C.S. Lewis, in his role as an Oxbridge professor of medieval and renaissance literature, observed that those who think the resurrection story is a myth haven’t read many myths. Mythic literature deals in archetypes, which are outside of history and beyond time. Myths speak of  “once upon a time” or “in a galaxy far, far away.” The Gospels don’t use that sort of language describing the resurrection of Christ.

The Gospels speak of particular places like the City of Jerusalem, and the events, which took place when a specific officer, Pontius Pilate, was the Roman governor of the region.  The Gospels and the oral proclamation of Christian tradition refer to distinct individuals— Andrew, Peter, James and John.  These people encountered Jesus after he rose from the dead.  They did not refer to this experience in any way as a dream or an hallucination.

As difficult as some in the modern city find it to believe in the resurrection, even they know that no one will risk death defending a myth. The myths of Greece and Rome are powerful and illuminating but there are no martyrs to Zeus or Jupiter.  Many of the first witnesses of the resurrection who shared this Good News went to their deaths defending the truth of their message: Peter in Rome, the other apostles, all except St. John the Evangelist, did not die of old age, they died confessing the truth: Jesus Christ is risen!

They proclaimed, as we do, that because of Jesus’ victory over death, violence — from the Epic of Hercules to “Game of Thrones”— is exposed and its legitimacy is condemned in light of Jesus’ death and resurrection.


In the view of many leaders past and present, order comes through warfare and invasion, through power and physical strength. The great Pax Romana of the Roman Empire maintained its hold through a massive army and the imposition of harsh punishment on those who opposed it.

Jesus’ way of establishing the Empire of Love, the City of God is not through violence or retribution. Instead, it has to do with a love, which swallows up hate, with confession of our own sins and the acceptance of God’s forgiveness, and then with the grace to forgive others rather than seek vengeance or a scapegoat.

The significance of Christ’s victory is emphasized by the fact that Jerusalem, where the events took place, is not a mythical city, nor is Jerusalem simply a synonym for heaven. Rather, Jerusalem and Temple of the Body of Christ form the new civilization founded in our midst, the civilization of the Lamb – of the innocent victim raised from the dead by the power of God in a new and transformed city, a new civilization – the City of God.

Jesus has revealed the truth of God’s love for us by undergoing the worst that humans can do to one another and through his complete self-sacrifice he has put to an end the repetition of human sacrifice by the forgiveness of sin. Today, tomorrow and forever those of us who affirm Jesus’ resurrection are citizens of this City of God, of the New Jerusalem which will come to its fullness at the end time.

Walker Percy, the southern American Catholic novelist in his novel, “The Moviegoer” describes the city of New Orleans in which his main character Bolling is increasingly uuneasy with the comfortable life he has. He observes the sights and sounds of the human city and floats through relationships. Finally Bolling comes to understand himself as a “seeker” rather than a resident – he longs inchoately for meaning, for another city. Though he does not say it explicitly, he longs for the heavenly city, the place of meaning and love – Jerusalem, the City of God.
The Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis King of France in New Orleans overlooks
Jackson Square. It is the oldest Catholic cathedral in continual use in the United States


This city, this civilization exists alongside the city of Man, the city of violence and greed. The City of God is the place in which the Holy Spirit continues to bring about saving acts through this new civilization, the sacramental life of the Church.  While still in the human city we participate in the real city, the eternal city. We are baptized into Jesus real death, we are personally forgiven by him in persona Christi as the priest pronounces his words of absolution in real time, we share communion in the real presence of Christ’s body at the altar. 

On Good Friday in the liturgy we venerated the cross of Christ expressing that we are incorporated members in the mystical body of Christ, the suffering body of Christ in this city, in this world. Now we return on Easter Day to the banquet of Jesus’ love in the light of his resurrection as we participate mystically in the City of God through the Eucharist.


In today’s ceremonies we see in sign and gesture the essence of the life of the Church and the life of every Christian soul. We will renew our baptismal promises and pray that we may be drawn more deeply into the civilization of the City of God, the fullness of the Church’s life. We pray that we may come one day to that awesome place – the New Jerusalem – where sorrow and sighing will flee away and we shall, as Isaiah says:  “be filled with joy and gladness” (cf. Is. 35: 10) because we know the truth of the resurrection and we belong to the risen Lord, the One who is the Temple in the heart of Jerusalem, the eternal City of God.

Friday, April 18, 2014

GOOD FRIDAY HOMILY AT STM, TORONTO

Being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient – even to the point of death – death on a cross.  (Phil 2: 6 – 11) 

The days of the sacred Triduum present us anew with the self-sacrifice of Jesus.  Through Jesus’ self-giving love we are given the fullness of life in Christ.  We find life in our communion with him through his death and resurrection for us, a life conveyed through the sacraments of his Church which bring us in contact with the events of Christ's passion.

Jerusalem is the location for the profound events of Jesus' passion. It is here that the first temple stood as a sign of the covenant between God and the people of Israel – a temple destroyed but rebuilt in the temple of Christ, who has become the priest, the altar, and the lamb of sacrifice.

Yes, Jesus is the one perfect and sufficient sacrifice, the sacrifice which has brought to consciousness and so brought to an end the justification for ritualizing human death. Christ has exposed and so disempowered the deep human desire to project on a scapegoat our own sins, our fear and our anger.

The temple is re-built in the sense that Jesus as the priest, the altar and the victim allows us to share in that one perfect offering, which the sinless Son of God has made by himself and in so doing has undertaken all the anguish and horror of humanity’s inhumanity to all the victims of all time.

Rene Girard, the great French thinker, believes, as I mentioned on Palm Sunday, that early in human development, we learned to control internal conflict by projecting our jealousy and violence outside ourselves and outside our community by placing all the guilt on a scapegoat which is sent into the wilderness or killed.  This formulaic action was so effective that societies have in one way or another continued to use scapegoating to control violence ever since.




IMAGE:  The of the scapegoat by the Pre-Raphaelite painter, Wm Holman Hunt,  (displayed at the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) several years ago).  Painted in the landscape of the Dead Sea.

He was oppressed and he was afflicted yet he did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 52)

Girard has shown evidence that this formulaic action of ostracism and human sacrifice was so universal that societies have, in one way or another, continued to use scapegoating to control violence.

Today, Vladimir Putin places the blame for economic failure in Ukraine on the West and their use of power. Within Ukraine, groups blame other groups. Russians in Eastern Ukraine ally themselves with outside forces against those they consider the usurpers in Kiev and so they justify violence against the government. 

Some report that one of the reasons for the present conflict is that the Russian leadership is using the Western-backed government in Kiev as a scapegoat and as a diversion of the Russian peoples’ attention from the profound social and economic problems in Russia.

Without entering into a political argument we can see that the successful use of a scapegoat depends upon an individual’s or community’s belief that they have found the cause of their troubles in an outside “enemy”.  The cure is to isolate or dispose of the enemy. Once the enemy is destroyed or expelled, says Girard, a community does experience a temporary sense of relief and calm is restored for a time.

Such was the case immediately after the death of Jesus. Jerusalem and its Temple continued to function until about  40 years later; in AD 70 the temple was destroyed by the Romans.

A lesson for us about the costly sacrifice of Jesus is that he brings the futility of our refusal to accept our own sin to consciousness. In light of Jesus and his self-giving love we cannot individually or collectively appease our failure or sin by blaming another. We must confess our own sin and come to love our neighbor.

Girard shows us that the calm following an act of scapegoating is only temporary since the scapegoat is not really the cause nor is violence the cure of the conflict i.e. the sins of our humanity, that led to the expulsion and in many cases violence and death for the scapegoat.

When imitation and jealousy lead once again to internal conflict, which escalates into violence, humans will find another scapegoat and repeat the process all over again. Jesus has exposed and denied the power of this cycle. The Suffering Servant has paid the wages of sin and set us free.

In the light of this understanding it may be seen that Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, was offering the people a scapegoat both for himself and for the Jewish people in the choice of one their own. Either Jesus or Barabbas would be the victim of human sacrifice in the form of crucifixion.

In his reading of the Bible, Girard realized that the Judeo-Christian tradition reveals the innocence of the scapegoat, “the Suffering Servant”, and so renders the justification for ancient sacrificial religion ineffective.

Jesus is the innocent victim of humanity – the one perfect complete and final sacrificial victim who has revealed the truth: the truth, which will set us free – the truth that God will forgive us when we accept our own sinfulness and renounce the scapegoating of others.

Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness so that we may receive mercy and obtain grace. (Hebrews 4)

History is witness to humanity’s, often unsuccessful, attempts to find sacrificial ways, apart from the one complete self-sacrifice of Jesus, to control our sin, rivalry and conflict. Christian apocalyptic literature predicts the failure of any sacrificial appeasement beyond the Cross and its power conveyed in the Mass which is a participation and re-presentation of the perfect sacrifice of Christ.

The psalmist and prophets tell us that the Messiah will come to Jerusalem to begin his work of restoring God’s people. Jesus did so by putting an end to the sacrificial system, completing it with his own final and complete self-offering for the sins of world.

Being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient – even to the point of death – death on a cross.  (Phil 2: 6 – 11)