The Dean of Sydney's Anglican cathedral airs his criticism of the catholic Church while welcoming pilgrimages to World Youth Day.
But his criticisms are not what we are used to hearing from Anglican deans. It seems that Philip Jensen, in fact, the whole Anglican Archdiocese of Sydney represents that rarest of rare birds these days - old fashioned Reformed or Puritan Anglicanism.
Jensen writes in the Sydney Morning Herald:
Protestantism is a protest. Our protest is against the enormity of the claims of the Roman Catholic Church.
Some people are born as Protestants. They are anti-Roman Catholic because of their own tribal roots. They have no belief other than that Roman Catholics are wrong. But Protestantism is not tribalism. It is the belief in the sole authority of the Bible. The Bible explains to us that salvation is only by the generosity of God. This salvation comes through Christ alone, and is received by faith without any works on our part. All is to the glory of God alone.
So we protest against Roman Catholic claims to authority. We object to the Pope claiming to be the Vicar of Christ. We reject all claims to authority that imply the insufficiency of scripture. We reject any implication that Jesus's work on the cross was insufficient or is received by more than faith or requires some other mediator.
This protest against Roman Catholicism is no small complaint. It goes to the very heart of God's central message to mankind - the way of salvation. The 39 articles of the Anglican Church state "the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith".
That sentence was written in the 16th century. Since then the Roman Catholic Church has added to its errors - the Immaculate Conception (1854), the Infallibility of the Pope (1870), and the bodily Assumption of Mary (1950). There is nothing in modern Roman Catholicism that reduces our need to protest.
And yet Jensen goes to say:
It is also to the credit of our city that we are willing to be hospitable not only to people with whom we agree but also to those with whom we disagree.
Of course our hospitality is expensive. That is the nature of hospitality. Compared to the amount of tax our Roman Catholic neighbours contribute it is as nothing.
Naturally our hospitality is inconvenient. We are regularly inconvenienced by parades and demonstrations, by sporting events and parties. That is the nature of living in a world city.
I will not be welcoming the Pope, going out to see him or waving a flag. Given what I have said, the Pope wouldn't expect me to. But I am certainly not going to pray for rain on his parade. Remember, our Lord said that our Father in heaven sends sun and rain on all - as the Bible puts it the "just and unjust" alike. This is God giving secular support. We should want our Government to do the same.
An encouraging tale of a Corpus Christi procession in north Georgia - the first ever. Pastor Randy Mattox writes:
"This year we did our first Eucharistic procession. Since our church is just a block off the town square, I have been wanting to do one through the downtown area. This year our seminarian wanted to organize it, so he did and it was beautiful!
There is a great joy and thrill in honoring our Lord publicly in this way. I felt myself overwhelmed with emotion during communion time, with everyone receiving Jesus, uniting ourselves to Him and to one another, and then knowing that this most intimate moment would culminate in processing out of the church to proclaim to the town and the whole world that our Lord is with us, feeding us, loving us, strengthening us even now as we journey on toward Heaven! It was truly an overwhelming experience!"
During the actual procession, we prayed the litany of the Eucharist and made our trip around the block through the downtown area. It was a short trip this time, I am thinking next year will be longer!!! Nevertheless cars drove by, watching us, probably thinking, "what in the world are they doing?" I felt sorry for them that they didn't yet know what blessing was passing their way. Hopefully with more catechesis and evangelization they will one day. Hopefully they too will join us one day in proudly, humbly, thankfully, walking with Jesus through the streets of Ellijay on the feast of Corpus Christi."
Corpus Christi in fundie land. I know the seminarian who "organized it". He happens to be a blogger and a convert but since he hasn't written about it directly, I won't blow his cover. But I can only imagine what a joyful experience it was for him!
Frank Milford, 100, and Anita Milford, 99, will celebrate by spending a quiet weekend together - like most of their days.
“At our age that’s all you need,” said Mr Milford. “Just us together, no big fuss.
. . .the secret to a successful marriage? Share a little kiss and cuddle every night before bed. “It’s our golden rule,” Mrs Milford said. “Couples these days don’t last long because they often don’t take enough time for each other. There just isn’t enough respect - love is about give and take. Our advice to young couples would be to make time for a little romance every day.”
Mr Milford added: “To win over your sweetheart you need a dose of old fashioned chivalry and don’t let your standards slip. We do everything together even after nearly 80 years.”
And I thought my grandparents were remarkable for their 67 years together. Any one else know a couple who has been married 60 years or more?
In a nation of more than 27 million people, about 7,000 are Catholics. (Sherry's note: Nepal has a total of 768,000 native Christians today although there were almost no Nepalese Christians in 1960. Almost all are Independent Christians. I've written about the extraordinary explosion of Christianity in Nepal here.) The 43-year-old priest is the first native Nepalese to be ordained into the priesthood, after attending seminary in India.
And, what led him to become a Catholic has a twist. The former Hindu was converted to Christianity by a Protestant missionary, who used John 3:16 — “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” — for changing his faith." (Sherry's note: Not surprising considering the history of Christianity in Nepal. What is interesting is that he became Catholic.)
“I was converted when I was 19,” Father Silas said.
He got the call, a spiritual awakening to enter the clergy when he was 26.
For his Hindu parents, the decision to leave the faith of his birth “was devastating, although they have now accepted it,” Father Silas said.
As the eldest son, he was expected to marry, father children and carry on the family’s line, which now becomes the responsibility of his brother, he said.
Currently there are 15 Nepalese men who are in seminaries in India, and they need funds for their education, he said.
So far, though his talks at churches in Sierra Vista, Green Valley and Tucson, he has been able to find sponsors who will support three of them to the tune of $1,200 a year, Father Silas said. Nepal is a landlocked nation about the size of Arkansas that is going through some political turmoil as the kingdom transitions toward what he hopes will become a constitutional republic.
The last of the absolute monarchs has been forced out of office, and on Wednesday the new government that is forming will meet to determine the direction Nepal will take, he said.
What may surprise some people is that Nepal’s prime minister has asked the former Maoist insurgents to form a government. The Maoists, formally known as the Communist Party of Nepal, led a bloody revolution against the king, leading the people to eventually call for the elimination of the monarchy by a vote.
“The Maoists have promised freedom of religion,” Father Silas said.
The promise of a secular government with the right for people to practice whatever religion they want is the right direction for Nepal to take, he said.
“It will give us the opportunity to evangelize,” the priest said.
Individuals who would like to donate money to assist with Catholic work in Nepal can do so by donating funds through St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church at 800 Taylor Drive, Sierra Vista AZ 85635.
The funds will be transmitted directly to Nepal through Caritas, the Catholic international social services organization, the Rev. Greg Adolf said.
Between the dizzying demands of Institute work and the spring gardening season, blogging has almost been nil. This weekend has been given over almost entirely to gardening: a truckload of topsoil, 12 yards of mulch put down, 4 extra large garbage can bags of debris raked up. All in preparation for planting.
Last summer, we built the skeleton. This summer, we are fleshing it out. Trees, shrubs, grasses, wildflowers, perennials. No time or money for annuals this year. (The big bed above is already planted with wildflower seeds that are just germinating and too small to be seen. Pikes Peak would be visible in the distance just left of center if our volunteer poplar wasn't obscuring the view.)
(Russian Hawthorne trees planted last June in full bloom today.)
That's because, as one family member put it memorably: "you aren't landscaping a yard, you are building a park!"
And its beginning to feel that way. Who knew that 1/3 of an acre was so big?
(Xeric perennials and bulbs planted last summer are back in good form.)
When we're done, there will be 17 trees and 27 large (as in 6 - 12 feet high) shrubs in the back yard. And that's just the big stuff. There are 57 trees/shrubs/roses/lilacs/vines to be planted along the back fence alone!
Someday, I know there will come a Memorial Day weekend when I will simply sit on the patio and revel. But it is not this day.
But I did get a glimpse of things to come this morning and thought I'd share a few pictures with you.
This is a big weekend – with a big story to unfold. It's one that has really captured the imagination of lots of people. It features a rugged – and unlikely – hero, with a ragtag bunch of misfit hangers-on, involved in one adventure after another. He deals with supernatural forces, and faces opposition by human enemies who often look good on the outside, but are corrupt inside. He even goes after them sometimes armed only with a whip. The whole saga starts with a story featuring the Ark of the covenant, goes on to include bloody human sacrifice, and let's not forget the Holy grail and its promise of everlasting life. And always lurking as a side story is our hero's attitude regarding snakes.
I suppose it's this marvelous sense of adventure that keeps us coming back to Mass week after week to hear more of the story of Jesus. Who did you think I was talking about? I mean, after all, Indian Jones is a make-believe character, and his adventures aren't real. Mary is the living Ark of the covenant, the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees the one Jesus calls "whitewashed tombs." Jesus offers himself in sacrifice on our behalf. He's the new Adam who is wounded by the serpent, but crushes the head of our ancient enemy as foretold in Genesis 3.
We gather each week not only to hear about Jesus and his adventures, but to enter into his story ourselves. Because at each Mass we take up the holy Grail and the bread of angels, and eat and drink that which Jesus promises will give us eternal life: his body and blood. And we do this, as often as we do it, in remembrance of him – as he commanded us.
If you think I'm being overdramatic in saying we enter into Jesus' life and death at Mass, it's because we don't understand what it means to celebrate the Eucharist as a memorial in the Jewish sense in which Jesus understood it. This is Memorial Day weekend, a celebration of the beginning of summer and the summer blockbuster movie season, to be sure. But it's also a time to remember those who have died in the service of their country. We decorate their graves, give speeches recalling their valor, and look backwards in time to events of the past, while remaining in the present. We don't think of ourselves as being present on a bloody Civil War battlefield, a shelled Normandy beach, a bunker in a Vietnamese rice paddy, or a bombed-out section of Baghdad. Ancient Jews – and modern, ones, too – remember differently. When they celebrate the Passover meal, which anticipates the Eucharistic sacrifice and meal, the Book of Exodus commands the Jewish father to explain the meaning of the feast this way: “On this day you shall explain to your son, ‘This is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt’” (13:8). In other words, the Jew celebrates Passover as though they'd been alive at the time of the Exodus. The ritual action of the Passover meal is not just an act of mental recall, it is a participation in the event itself. This is why St. Paul asks the Corinthians, "The cup of blessing that we bless,?is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? ?The bread that we break,?is it not a participation in the body of Christ?" When we gather around the altar-table, no new sacrifice is offered, but the one sacrifice of Christ's cross. The same body and blood of Christ offered to his eleven friends is offered to us. Time and space are transcended; history is made present, and future glory is promised. The Passover proclaims God’s continuing liberation of His people in the present day and looks forward to the fulfillment of God’s promises for complete salvation when the Messiah comes. So, too, each Mass proclaims the ongoing freedom we are offered in the Holy Spirit Jesus gives us, and points us towards his future return in glory.
We first, however, have to prepare ourselves to drink from the cup. The cup, the holy grail, will contain the blood of the Lord that seals an everlasting covenant between the Father and us, his adopted children. It is the fulfillment of the covenants made with Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David. When James and John ask Jesus, as he goes up to Jerusalem, if they can sit at his right and his left when he enters his kingdom, he asks them if they can drink from the cup he is to drink. They don't know what they are asking, as he points out. For the cup from which he will drink is the cup he asks His Father to allow to pass by him. It is the cup of suffering; the cup of his own life poured out for others – for sinners, no less – who will themselves put him to death.
We are already in the midst of an adventure – a real one involving supernatural forces that seek our ruin. Not Nazi archeologists or heart-ripping pagan priests, but the demons who convince us to live for ourselves – to seek power, security, the satisfaction of our own desires. In short – to live for ourselves - which is spiritual death, just as it was for Adam and Eve. Dare we drink from this true holy grail? Are we willing to accept what it means? It means to enter into the life and death of Jesus; to live as he lived: serving others, and not asking if they're worthy of our service; binding their wounds, whether physical or spiritual - and not demanding an explanation of how they were wounded; teaching them in truth and with utter patience when they aren't receptive; expelling their demons with prayer, our presence, and with the power of Jesus – not our own; forgiving them even if they should attempt to kill us.
This is the adventure we are to embrace – and many have. They're adventurers in the image of Christ, and we often call them saints. People like Catherine of Siena, who traveled to Avignon, France, when most people stayed in their walled villages where it was safe, and told the Pope to get his holy hide back to Rome. She died at age 33 – perhaps the age of her Master – having spent herself entirely for Him. Or Fr. Damien de Vuester, who traveled from Belgium to Hawai'i to preach the Gospel, and then traveled to Molokai'i to minister to lepers until he died as one of them. Or Franz Jagerstatter, a 36 year-old Austrian father of three who traveled from his farm to the heart of Nazi Germany where he was executed for refusing to join the Nazi army. Or Dorothy Day who traveled from atheism and communism to faith and communing with the poor from the dark days of the Great Depression until she died.
You and I are called to our own unique adventure in grace. Living as Jesus lived is possible only if we drink from this cup and eat from the one loaf. We cannot live as Christ unless we live in Christ – if we remain in him. But to live in him paradoxically means we have to die. We have to die to our own will. In Gethsemane Jesus prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done." Lk22:42 The drinking of the cup demands that we do the will of the Father, which is revealed to us by the Son, and summed up in "love one another as I have loved you." Only by seeing one another - whether pope, leper, Nazi or hobo - as another self, do we, though many, become one body.
St. Paul says, "Because the loaf of bread is one,?we, though many, are one body,?for we all partake of the one loaf." The body is now not only bread become Jesus, but also “we,” the community that participates in Christ’s sacramental body. Later in this same letter to the Corinthians, Paul addresses their lack of love for one another, demonstrated by their lack of sharing at the communal meal that preceded the Eucharistic feast. He says to them, "anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself." 1Cor 11:29 Do we discern the body? Are we willing to live the adventure that follows upon any decision to love someone for Christ's sake?
If we hold any grudges against someone who's wronged us; if we hold prejudice in our heart against gays, blacks, whites, immigrants, Democrats, Republicans, pacifists or hawks; if we resent the poor or are jealous of the rich; if we withhold anything good from someone because we've judged they don't deserve it – then we drink judgment upon ourselves when we drink from the one cup. We "choose poorly." Unlike the bad guy in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, we won't age 100 years in a moment and become "dust in the wind." But we will have no life within us, because, truly, we do not yet remain in Christ. His will is not yet our own.
In order to eat and drink without condemnation, our lives must be transformed. We must adopt Jesus' attitude of selfless love and utter commitment to the Father's will. Only then will we properly "do this in remembrance" of Jesus – truly enter into his life by embracing his death. Only then will we, though many, become one – united by one will, that of the Blessed Trinity. Only then will the real adventure begin – and continue into eternity.
A local reporter went up and did a video of the team who are tracking the health and welfare of these lambs who are born and spend their first month with their mothers on inaccessible rocky shelves to protect them from predators.
Big horn sheep are so impressive - they wander the ground of Glen Eyrie, the fabulous estate of the city's founder - General Palmer - and for the past 50 years, the headquarters of the Navigators.
As in this great winter photo above (click on the photo and it will expand to full size) and this summer photo of the "castle" below:
Glen Eyrie is one of the places I often take visitors to see. On one such visit, a huge ram simply stood blocking the road in front of us with magnificent indifference to the fact that we were the ones in a car.
Saturday (It's already early Sunday morning in Australia as I write) 300 young Aussies spread out over Sydney promoting WYD in 52 malls around the area. This followed by a party with Cardinal Pell featuring a Latin American band.
At the party, they will be making a 30 WYD video featuring featuring young adults welcoming pilgrims in different languages.
What a huge undertaking even the smallest WYD is! God bless all who are laboring for the sake of Catholic youth and young adults all over the world.
Fascinating article in Commonweal by a young priest about bridging the generation gap between priests. It is definitely worth reading so do read the whole thing. A few things that stood out for me:
Fr. Damian J. Ference writes:
On entering seminary out of high school:
I decided to enter a college seminary in late July of 1994. I had earned my high-school diploma a few months earlier and chose to abandon my previous plans in order to follow what seemed to be God’s plan. My parents were shocked but supportive. My older brother asked me if I was gay. An old friend made a remark about little boys.
On the experience gap between generations of priests:
"My pastor recalled memorizing the Baltimore Catechism in grade school. I told him that I made collages about my feelings in religious-ed class. When he complained that his seminary formation had been too militaristic, I told him of my frustrations with a seminary formation that seemed too lax. When he spoke of the years he spent studying Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, I expressed embarrassment at not knowing how to chant the Pater Noster as I concelebrated Mass with Benedict XVI at World Youth Day a few years ago in Cologne. When my pastor expressed gratitude that the clerical dress code had been relaxed over the years, I said I thought it was important that the priest be a visible sign of the church, to remind the world that God is not dead. But when it came to the abuse scandals, we were on the same page-or at least in the same book. The scandals hit us both hard, though in different ways.
The generation before mine remembers a time of general stability and respectability within the priesthood. When my pastor’s generation entered the seminary, family members did not ask him or his classmates if they were gay or attracted to little boys (though I am told there have always been people who thought there was something sexually suspect about priests). Priests of my pastor’s generation didn’t have protesters at their ordinations. Their suffering was different. They battled with pastors over implementing the teaching of Vatican II, watched classmates leave the ministry in droves, and struggled to find a balance between the ordained priesthood and baptismal priesthood."
"When my generation entered the seminary, the reputation of the priesthood had already been tarnished. Sure, there was still support in parish communities and youth groups for a vocation to the priesthood, but it was nothing like what the previous generation had experienced. As seminarians, we knew that the days of full rectories were a distant memory and that we might be made pastors right after our first assignment-even pastors of more than one parish. We understood that the communal meals of the seminary were a kind of luxury, that we would likely be eating most of our meals alone once we were ordained. We also knew that the days of “Father knows best” were gone, and that the laity had a vital role in the health and growth of the parish. (Most of us knew this firsthand because we came from families that were key players in the life of our home parishes.) We knew that the stakes were high. We also knew that we were maybe not the most qualified. But then neither were the apostles, and we took comfort in that: God qualifies those he calls."
Father makes a fascinating observation about the generation in seminary right now:
"What makes this phenomenon so fascinating is that these young men are actually drawn to the challenge and the sacrifice of the priesthood-to the fact that they may be persecuted, or at least despised, because of their vocation. They are eager to give themselves away, to lay down their lives in service of God and his church. I am afraid that this aspect of the priesthood has sometimes been obscured or soft-peddled, but no longer. Vocation directors have stopped talking about the priesthood as a duty or as a way up in the world and have instead begun talking about it mainly as sacrifice and adventure. The church has always depended on the idealism of young people to stand strong in the face of danger, persecution, and despair, and the faith of this new generation has been a great blessing that is only beginning to be recognized."
On priestly identity and the culture wars:
"Over the past few years, Commonweal has published a number of articles, editorials, and letters to the editor that comment on the new generation of priests and seminarians. Unfortunately, most of the comments have not been very encouraging. My generation has been described as intellectually second-rate, theologically deficient, arrogant, blindly loyal to Rome, authoritarian, and out of touch with the laity. If these descriptions are accurate, the future of the priesthood looks bleak indeed. On the other side of the ideological fence, conservative journals and blogs praise the same generation of priests and seminarians for their orthodoxy, courage, fidelity, zeal, and pastoral charity. These observers joyfully predict that the new generation of priests and seminarians will restore what has been lost since the Second Vatican Council and reinvigorate the church through strong and determined leadership."
So which is it? Are we part of the problem or part of the solution? That all depends on what one expects us to be.
And on the "We can't wait for the boomers who destroyed everything to die" syndrome:
"It seems to me that priests my age have attempted, knowingly or not, to distance themselves from the generation that came just before them. Paradoxically, for a generation often accused of being too traditional, we seem to want to move ahead without really knowing where the church has just been. And although most of us have a few older priests we look up to, we often assume that we have everything figured out, dismissing our elders as out-of-touch has-beens. This frustrates older priests who long to play the role of mentor and guide. Then again, when we do go to older priests for direction and guidance, we sometimes discover that they take little interest in our concerns and priorities. For many of them, we seem to be no more than a source of annoyance.
It doesn’t have to be this way, and it shouldn’t. The different generations of priests need each other for support, wisdom, experience, enthusiasm, inspiration, accountability, and fraternity. Priests cannot expect to be bridge-builders in the church if they are divided among themselves. There is an urgent need for reconciliation, and it starts with us. My generation needs to hear the stories of priests from our parents’ and grandparents’ generations. We need to learn from the men who grew up during the Depression, fought in the Second World War, and were ordained before Vatican II-and we need to realize that there isn’t much time left to hear their stories. We need to listen to our baby-boomer predecessors tell their stories about seminary life and priesthood at a moment when the church was in major transition. Their generation has its own hopes and joys, triumphs and sufferings, and we need to hear about them. Too often we fail to appreciate their perseverance and faith through a very turbulent period of church history."
Thank God for young priests like Fr. Ference. May his tribe ever increase!
Including this famous poem about the view from the Bridge:
The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, with conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame, "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she with silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
45% Hispanic Catholics in the U.S. who say they have received or witnessed a divine healing.
21% Non-Hispanic Catholics who say this.
I've witnessed several healings, including that of a wheel-chair bound dancer who rose and walked after an all night prayer session. And my own healing.
Guess that makes me part of the 21% of non-Hispanic Catholics who say this.
There is a story about St. Dominic getting a tour of the riches of St. Peter's from the Pope who observed "that Peter can no longer say "Gold and silver have I none.". To which Dominic is said to have responded: "Neither can he say "Rise and walk."
Dominic was the agent of numerous miracles during his lifetime including the raising of a dead boy. But then he was Spanish.
Anyone else want to share an experience of healing?
Okay. I'm freaked. A reader has read and commented upon a post that has mysteriously vanished although I know I had posted it successfully. So Bobby's comment ended up on another post. Just as weird - I got a Google alert to tell me about the post which did not take but which a search engine found anyway!
Very, very weird. There is no end to the power of my anti-charism.
Or the alternate universe in which I apparently live.