Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ordinary prognostications

Before the New Year begins, I usually do some prognostications. In the realm of Anglican interest would be the appointment of an ordinary for the establishment of an Anglican Ordinariate in the United States on January 1. Since I supposed the announcement will be made just before the new year, I wanted to get this post out before then.

Anglicanorum Coetibus indicates that former Anglican bishops would be the most likely candidates for ordinary, but not necessarily so. There are six TAC bishops who are joining the ordinariate. Of those, perhaps Archbishop Louis Faulk could serve as a transitional figure to get things off the ground until a more permanent ordinary could be appointed. He might be a good choice given that his ministry was occupied in building up the continuing Anglican movement and leading it toward reconciliation with the Holy See (on the other hand, some might think that he would be a bad choice for precisely the same reason). What I'm not sure about is his age and health (he will turn 77). Faulk is retired now, and may not be up to the task.

Four bishops of the Episcopal Church became Roman Catholics in recent years. Two of those converts became reverts--Bishops Clarence Pope and Daniel Herzog. The other two have now been ordained as Catholic priests, Fathers Jeffrey Steenson and John Lipscomb. Of those two, Steenson is the more accomplished with an Oxford doctorate in theology. Interestingly, Pope and Steenson visited with Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope John Paul II in the early 1990s to propose the establishment of a structure for Anglicans in the Catholic Church that was very similar to what eventually was established with Anglicanorum Coetibus. The Bovina Bloviator seems confident it will be Steenson.

In choosing an ordinary, preference is given for Anglican bishops, but he does not necessarily have to be one. And there are many former Anglican/Episcopal priests now serving as priest in Roman Catholic dioceses throughout the country. Of these, Fr. George Rutler is (like Steenson) the most theologically accomplished and has many years of pastoral experience on both sides of the Tiber. He is also unique in being unmarried and if chosen to be the ordinary, would be ordained to the episcopate. It might in itself be worth having at least one of the Anglican ordinaries be a bishop.

There are also priests who have been serving in the seven Anglican Use parishes and who would be able to bring those years of experience to the table. The most experienced would be Fr. Christopher Philips of Our Lady of the Atonement parish and school in San Antonio. He was instrumental in forming the Anglican Use in the first place and has been a great resource to those interested in the ordinariate throughout the country.

Another possibility is Fr. Scott Hurd, who has been the liaison for Cardinal Wuerl for the implementation of the ordinariate in this country, and there are many other unsung heroes who have been faithfully ministering as priests.

One question is whether the new ordinary will need to be a priest already. I suspect so. In England, the ordinary was received and ordained and made the ordinary right away. In that case, he was one of several Anglican bishops who converted for the establishment of an ordinariate. The situation is not the same in the US, where there have been Anglican Use parishes for years, and there is not the same need for an "all at once" approach.

So who will the ordinary be? My prognostication (which is a total guess based on no inside information whatsoever) is that it will not be anyone named above. I guess we'll find out in a matter of days.

Update: As usual, my prognostications are worth less than the paper they're written on. As everyone else anticipated, the new Ordinary for the US is Father Jeffrey Steenson. I'm sure he will prove to be a wise choice. If it's any consolation, I also predict that President Obama will be re-elected this November.

Also, just for fun, here is a magazine article from 1911 about what life will be like 100 years from now. Some of the guesses were not too far off the mark.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Such a healthy perspective!

It is refreshing to have such a healthy perspective on the whole issue of living with sexual brokenness as a faithful Catholic. According to Steve Gershom, it's just an ordinary life, and he's right. Have a look at his blog post "Gay, Catholic, and Doing Fine."

Here's an excerpt:
"Is it hard to be gay and Catholic? Yes, because like everybody, I sometimes want things that are not good for me. The Church doesn't let me have those things, not because she's mean, but because she's a good mother. . . . So, yes, it's hard to be gay and Catholic -- it's hard to be anything and Catholic -- because I don't always get to do what I want. Show me a religion where you always get to do what you want and I'll show you a pretty shabby, lazy religion. Something not worth living or dying for, or even getting up in the morning for. That might be the kind of world John Lennon wanted, but John Lennon was kind of an idiot."

Friday, December 02, 2011

Birth names and regal names

This Advent, I'm reading through Raymond Brown's monumental The Birth of the Messiah. I his commentary on Matthew's genealogy of Jesus, he noted something of which I was unaware. The kings of Israel often (perhaps always) had both a birth name and then a new name bestowed at their coronation. In his list, Matthew chose a birth name (Jeconiah) in one instance and a regal name (Uzziah) in another.

That got me wondering if there is a Christian parallel. In the resurrection, Christians are to receive new names. St John records Jesus' promise, "To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it" (Revelation 2:17). Since we are to be joint-heirs with the Son in the kingdom of God, perhaps this is analogous to a regal name.

Jesus is also said to have a new name; perhaps this indicates a regal name. Again, St John records Jesus' promise, "The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name" (Revelation 3:12).

What is this new name? St Peter gives us an indication in his speech on Pentecost. He says, "Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified" (Acts 2:36). These new titles of "Lord" and "Christ" are bestowed by God the Father in virtue of Jesus' resurrection, which serves as a kind of coronation (by analogy), giving us the regal names "Lord and Christ"--names which are above every name.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

A Christmas without Anglicans?

One of the things I like most about the Christmas season are the carols. It only occurred to me recently that so many of them came to us from Anglicans. That reminded me that even our popular image of jolly old St. Nick was shaped by a professor of biblical studies at (of all places) an Episcopal seminary.

“‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” is a poem first published anonymously in 1823 and generally attributed to Clement Clarke Moore, a professor of classics at Columbia and then lay Professor of Hebrew and the Bible at the General Theological Seminary in New York, which was built on land he donated. The poem, which has been called “arguably the best-known verses ever written by an American,” is largely responsible for the conception of Santa Claus from the mid-nineteenth century to today, including his physical appearance, the night of his visit, his mode of transportation, the number and names of his reindeer, as well as the tradition that he brings toys to children.

And what about the carols? The text of the popular Christmas carol “O little town of Bethlehem” was written by Phillips Brooks, an Episcopal priest who was the long-time Rector of Trinity Church Trinity in Boston, and later the Bishop of Massachusetts. He was inspired by visiting the Palestinian city of Bethlehem in 1865. Three years later, he wrote the poem for his church and his organist, Lewis Redner, added the music. Redner’s tune, simply titled “St. Louis,” is the tune used most often for this carol in the United States.”

John Mason Neale was an Anglican priest, scholar, and hymn-writer. He translated many ancient hymns, such as the Christmas classic “Of the Father’s love begotten.” He was also responsible for much of the translation of the Advent hymn “O come, O come, Emmanuel,” based on the “Great O Antiphons” for the week preceding Christmas. Neale’s most enduring and widely known legacy is probably his own original Christmas contributions, most notably “Good Christian men, rejoice” and his Boxing Day carol, “Good King Wenceslas.”

The Anglican priest Charles Wesley, penned the classic “Hark! The herald angels sing.” The original words were reworked by his friend and fellow priest George Whitfield into the verses familiar to us today. The “Father of English Hymnody” Isaac Watts, a nonconformist minister in England, wrote the famous carol “Joy to the world!” The Anglican bishop Christopher Wordsworth penned the famous carol, “Sing, O sing, this blessed morn.”

Christina Rossetti was an English poet and a devout Anglo-Catholic. Two of her poems, “In the bleak midwinter” and “Love came down at Christmas,” became popular Christmas carols. Cecil Alexander, wife of a priest and then bishop in the Church of England, wrote the hymn “Once in royal David’s city.” Nahum Tate, who was the son of a priest and became England’s poet laureate, wrote the hymn “While shepherds watched their flock by night.” At the age of twenty-nine, English writer and Anglican layman William Chatterton Dix was struck with a sudden near-fatal illness and confined to bedrest for several months, which resulted in a deep depression. Yet out of his traumatic experience, he wrote the lovely carol “What Child is this?”

What would Christmas be like without Anglicans?

Your pastor and friend,
Father Timothy