New guidelines from Rome

Mrs. Beamish is a funny song that touches on a very real issue within the Church- and not just for Anglicans! Namely how to ensure that the ‘sharing of the peace’ is conducted in a way that is reverent and does not detract from holy and sincere worship of God.

Sadly in many places the balance has not been achieved and so the ‘sharing of the peace’ has turned into an interval for people- with much bear hugging, slapping each other on the back and general chatter amongst the people. The focus on recognising God in each one of us has been eclipsed by a general ‘how do you do’ moment more fitting for post worship refreshments.

So it is good news indeed that the Vatican has released a letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, regarding the Sign of Peace. This is an instructive letter and another aspect of the new translation/evangelisation which emphasis a need for God centred reverent and fitting worship to replace what has become banal, man focused and irreverent in places.  The bold text is mine (for those who don’t read this in its entirety!)

1. «Peace I leave you; my peace I give you».1 As they gathered in the cenacle, these are the words with which Jesus promises the gift of peace to his disciples before going to face his passion, in order to implant in them the joyful certainty of his steadfast presence. After his resurrection, the Lord fulfills his promise by appearing among them in the place where they had gathered for fear of the Jews saying, «Peace be with you!».2 Christ’s peace is the fruit of the redemption that he brought into the world by his death and resurrection – the gift that the Risen Lord continues to give even today to his Church as she gathers for the celebration of the Eucharist in order to bear witness to this in everyday life.

2. In the Roman liturgical tradition, the exchange of peace is placed before Holy Communion with its own specific theological significance. Its point of reference is found in the Eucharistic contemplation of the Paschal mystery as the “Paschal kiss” of the Risen Christ present on the altar3 as in contradistinction to that done by other liturgical traditions which are inspired by the Gospel passage from St. Matthew (cf. Mt 5: 23). The rites which prepare for Communion constitute a well expressed unity in which each ritual element has its own significance and which contributes to the overall ritual sequence of sacramental participation in the mystery being celebrated. The sign of peace, therefore, is placed between the Lord’s Prayer, to which is joined the embolism which prepares for the gesture of peace, and the breaking of the bread, in the course of which the Lamb of God is implored to give us his peace. With this gesture, whose «function is to manifest peace, communion and charity»,4 the Church «implores peace and unity for herself and for the whole human family, and the faithful express to each other their ecclesial communion and mutual charity before communicating in the Sacrament»,5 that is, the Body of Christ the Lord.

3. In the Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum caritatis, Pope Benedict XVI entrusted to this Congregation the competence of considering questions about the exchange of peace,6 in order to safeguard the sacred sense of the Eucharistic celebration and the sense of mystery at the moment of receiving Holy Communion: «By its nature the Eucharist is the sacrament of peace. At Mass this dimension of the Eucharistic mystery finds specific expression in the sign of peace. Certainly this sign has great value (cf. Jn 14:27). In our times, fraught with fear and conflict, this gesture has become particularly eloquent, as the Church has become increasingly conscious of her responsibility to pray insistently for the gift of peace and unity for herself and for the whole human family. [. . .] We can thus understand the emotion so often felt during the sign of peace at a liturgical celebration. Even so, during the Synod of Bishops there was discussion about the appropriateness of greater restraint in this gesture, which can be exaggerated and cause a certain distraction in the assembly just before the reception of Communion. It should be kept in mind that nothing is lost when the sign of peace is marked by a sobriety which preserves the proper spirit of the celebration, as, for example, when it is restricted to one’s immediate neighbours».7

4. Pope Benedict XVI, further than shedding light on the true sense of the rite and of the exchange of pace, emphasized its great significance as a contribution of Christians, with their prayer and witness to allay the most profound and disturbing anxieties of contemporary humanity. In light of all this he renewed his call that this rite be protected and that this liturgical gesture be done with religious sensibility and sobriety.

5. This Dicastery, at the request of Pope Benedict XVI, had already approached the Conferences of Bishops in May of 2008 to seek their opinion about whether to maintain the exchange of peace before Communion, where it is presently found, or whether to move it to another place, with a view to improving the understanding and carrying out of this gesture. After further reflection, it was considered appropriate to retain the rite of peace in its traditional place in the Roman liturgy and not to introduce structural changes in the Roman Missal. Some practical guidelines are offered below to better explain the content of the exchange of peace and to moderate excessive expressions that give rise to disarray in the liturgical assembly before Communion.

6. Consideration of this theme is important. If the faithful through their ritual gestures do not appreciate and do not show themselves to be living the authentic meaning of the rite of peace, the Christian concept of peace is weakened and their fruitful participation at the Eucharist is impaired. Therefore, along with the previous reflections that could form the basis for a suitable catechesis by providing some guidelines, some practical suggestions are offered to the Conferences of Bishops for their prudent consideration:

a) It should be made clear once and for all that the rite of peace already has its own profound meaning of prayer and offering of peace in the context of the Eucharist. An exchange of peace appropriately carried out among the participants at Mass enriches the meaning of the rite itself and gives fuller expression to it. It is entirely correct, therefore, to say that this does not involve inviting the faithful to exchange the sign of peace “mechanically”. If it is foreseen that it will not take place properly due to specific circumstances or if it is not considered pedagogically wise to carry it out on certain occasions, it can be omitted, and sometimes ought to be omitted. It is worth recalling that the rubric from the Missal states: “Then, if appropriate, the Deacon or the Priest, adds: “Let us offer each other the sign of peace” (emphasis added).8

b) On the basis of these observations, it may be advisable that, on the occasion of the publication of the translation of the third typical edition of the Roman Missal in their own country, or when new editions of the same Missal are undertaken in the future, Conferences of Bishops should consider whether it might not be fitting to change the manner of giving peace which had been established earlier. For example, following these years of experience, in those places where familiar and profane gestures of greeting were previously chosen, they could be replaced with other more appropriate gestures.

c) In any case, it will be necessary, at the time of the exchange of peace, to definitively avoid abuses such as:

-the introduction of a “song for peace”, which is non-existent in the Roman Rite.9

-the movement of the faithful from their places to exchange the sign of peace amongst themselves.

-the departure of the priest from the altar in order to give the sign of peace to some of the faithful.

-that in certain circumstances, such as at the Solemnity of Easter or of Christmas, or during ritual celebrations such as Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, Matrimony, Sacred Ordinations, Religious Professions, and Funerals, the exchange of peace being the occasion for expressing congratulations, best wishes or condolences among those present.10

d) Conferences of Bishops are likewise invited to prepare liturgical catecheses on the meaning of the rite of peace in the Roman liturgy and its proper realization in the celebration of the Holy Mass. In this regard, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments attaches to this Circular Letter, some helpful guidelines.

7. The intimate relationship between the lex orandi and the lex credendi must obviously be extended to the lex vivendi. Today, a serious obligation for Catholics in building a more just and peaceful world is accompanied by a deeper understanding of the Christian meaning of peace and this depends largely on the seriousness with which our particular Churches welcome and invoke the gift of peace and express it in the liturgical celebration. Productive steps forward on this matter must be insisted upon and urged because the quality of our Eucharistic participation depends upon it, as well as the efficacy of our being joined with those who are ambassadors and builders of peace, as expressed in the Beatitudes.”

8. In conclusion, the Bishops and, under their guidance, the priests are urged, therefore, to give careful consideration to these observations and to deepen the spiritual significance of the rite of peace in the celebration of the Holy Mass, in their spiritual and liturgical formation and in appropriate catechesis for the faithful. Christ is our peace,I2 that divine peace, announced by the prophets and by the angels, and which he brought to the world by means of his paschal mystery. This peace of the Risen Lord is invoked, preached and spread in the celebration, even by means of a human gesture lifted up to the realm of the sacred.

The Holy Father Pope Francis, on 7 June, 2014 approved and confirmed the contents of which is contained in this Circular Letter, prepared by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and ordered its publication.

From the offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Rome, 8 June, 2014, the Solemnity of Pentecost.

Antonio Card. CANIZARES LLOVERA
Prefect

Arthur ROCHE
Archbishop Secretary

Extra Mass times

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Attention Anselmians! I do not officially return to parish duties until Sunday. However, as I am resident in Pembury at present, Mass will be offered this evening at 7pm and also tomorrow morning at 10am. Do pass the word on and hope to see some faces there!

The Ordinary writes

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In a couple of weeks “Called to be One” – a special day of celebration for Ordinariate Groups the nation over- is upon us. Every group is encouraged to take part and here in Pembury we will hold a service of Choral Evensong and Benediction on Sunday 7th September at 6:30pm, during which a short talk will be given to help people better understand the Ordinariate vision.

Of course one of the main aspects of the Ordinariate centres on ecumenism. A point forcibly made by Monsignor Lopes of the CDF who reminded us we are “on the front row of modern ecumenism” A point later confirmed by Pope Francis who has shown his support for us by sending good wishes and imparting his Apostolic Blessing on anyone who takes part in “Called to be One”.

And the Ordinary, Monsignor Keith Newton, has written a very helpful article- ahead of our celebrations- examining where ecumenism is at present in light of recent changes in both Canterbury and Rome. Here are his wise and challenging words:

November this year will mark the 50th anniversary of the solemn promulgation of the Second Vatican Council Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio. It still remains the authoritative document of the Catholic Church setting out the principles of ecumenical dialogue, though much of its teaching was expounded by St John Paul II in his encyclical Ut Unum Sint (1995). Its first paragraph makes clear that the restoration of unity among Christian people was one of the major concerns of the Council. But a reading of the documents of Vatican II shows clearly that the bishops meeting in Rome did not deviate from the belief that there is only One Church of Jesus Christ and identified that Church with the Catholic Church in communion with the successor of Peter. This is made clear both in the dogmatic constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, and also the decree on ecumenism. The Catholic Church is described as “God’s only flock” and it is from this “one and only Church” that other Christian communities became separated over the centuries. In a much-quoted passage Lumen Gentium described the Church in this way: “This Church constituted and organised as a society in the present world, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him. Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its visible confines. Since these are gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, they are forces impelling towards Catholic unity.”

In an earlier draft of that constitution the text read “This Church is the Catholic Church” but was changed to “This Church subsists in the Catholic Church”. There have probably been hundreds of articles written about exactly what “subsists” means. It is usually taken to mean that the one Church of Jesus Christ “has concrete form” or is “concretely realised” in the Catholic Church. What it does not mean is that this one Church of Christ subsists in a number of different Christian communities of which the Catholic Church is one among many. It does mean that the Catholic Church is not totally set part from other Christian communities but recognises the active presence of the one Church in other ecclesial bodies, even if they are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church. There is already partial communion between all the baptised which should lead by God’s grace to eventual full communion.

This has been the guiding principle of ecumenical dialogue over the last 50 years. Many of us who were previously Anglicans have yearned and prayed for Christian unity, only to have our hopes dashed as more obstacles have materialised to make the prospect of that unity, for which our Lord earnestly prayed, more difficult. Everybody recognises that the recent decision by the General Synod of the Church of England to ordain women to the episcopate has dealt a serious blow to ecumenical hopes. It would be wrong, however, to see the issue of women’s ordination as the only obstacle to corporate union. Other issues over marriage and other moral questions have arisen over the years to make the ecumenical dream much less of a possibility in the foreseeable future.

It was against this background that many Anglicans, who already believed they shared a common faith, approached the Holy See petitioning to be received into full communion which led to the publication of the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus in 2009 and the erection of the first ordinariate in January 2011.

In a lecture given in 2010, Cardinal Levada, then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, made two very important points about Anglicanorum Coetibus. The first was that it was not created in a vacuum but was a logical development of the official Anglican-Catholic dialogue over the previous 45 years. In fact, it could be described a fruit of Vatican II. The second was that this is the first time that the Catholic Church had reached out to men and women of western Christianity who desired full communion and accorded them not just a place among many, but a distinctive place within the Church. This must have important ecumenical implications which Benedict XVI was fully aware of when he described Anglicanorum Coetibus as pointing towards that ultimate goal of full ecclesial communion between Catholics and Anglicans. The erection of the ordinariates opens new possibilities for Christian unity by offering the opportunity of legitimate diversity in the expression of our common faith. So much ecumenical work is about dialogue and reports which, though important in themselves, cannot be a substitute for something actually happening to restore full communion. The full corporate unity of the Church is the will of Christ for which all Christians must work and pray. The ordinariate, far from making ecumenical relations more difficult, holds out a vision for a means by which the goal of unity might be realised. In a small way, those in the ordinariate are working to achieve that aim of being “united but not absorbed”, a hugely important notion for the future of the Church.

We are conscious that many people are not aware of or have misunderstandings about the ordinariate that gives this prophetic vision for Christian unity. To help people understand us better, especially those in the Church of England who may be feeling that God might be calling them into communion with us, we have arranged an exploration day called “Called to be One” on September 6 for which our Holy Father, has promised his prayers. Ordinariate groups around the country are providing opportunities for anyone searching to learn a little more about our mission within the Catholic Church.

Purbeck reviewed

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What an utterly charming event the Purbeck Folk Festival was. Set on a farm nestled on the Jurassic Coastline in Dorset, the setting was idyllic. There was music, workshops, good food, a warm atmosphere and, best of all, a huge array of different ales in the bar!

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The best band we watched were “Caravan of thieves’ whose energy was engrossing and whose skill with instruments was astonishing. What a fantastic live act they are. It was a privilege to meet the band members afterwards, all of them down to earth. A meeting which allowed Jemima to be photographed with Fuzz the lead singer (above) and also his wife, Carrie Sangiovanni and zany band member Brian Anderson.

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Aside from the music there was plenty of fun for the children. The highlight here being the special story telling session run by author and illustrator of children’s books, Mark Fraser.  I cannot imagine why but the children absolutely insisted we must buy his book entitled ‘ridiculous Nicholas’. Something about Saint Anselm’s church they said giggling….

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And then there were the workshops. The drumming one ensured the whole family got involved. Even little Gussy! For almost an hour they beat their hands on the skins and enjoyed making different rhythms.

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All great fun then with much crammed into a shorter visit than planned. I never imagined a folk festival could be such fun. Naturally there were a few oddballs in attendance and, of course, the inevitable act  or two which were little more than a dated angry man with guitar pointing out world’s faults whilst offering nothing by way of solutions- but that is to be expected. But over all the clientele was very mixed and the whole thing incredibly friendly. Great fun…now to collapse for a day or two before work begins in earnest.

Purbeck Folk Festival

Apologies for less frequent posting at present. This is due to it being holiday season.  A normal service will resume from next Sunday when I return to full time parish duties. 

Today the family was supposed to be in Dorset for the Purbeck Folk Festival which runs over the bank holiday weekend. But our plans were put on ice when I was unexpectedly taken to hospital on Thursday evening! Having felt unwell in the afternoon- by evening my temperature had risen to such an extent I lost coherency and was very muddled. The hospital was  brilliant and over Thursday night an amazing array of tests were done- from X-rays to CT scans- before it was announced I had contracted a nasty virus. Which explained why neither paracetamol nor antibiotics were shifting the temperature.

Having recovered a bit I was released yesterday afternoon. And though I am still battling a little bit of temperature and malaise I am now also sacrificially/foolishly/bravely packing up the trailer to get to Dorset in time to enjoy a performance Jemima’s favourite singer at the festival- Emily Barker.  (See video link above). We also look forward to enjoying the slightly off the wall ‘Caravan of thieves’.

I may as well have fun recovering whilst resting in a camping chair listening to nice music as trapped in my front room and the family have really been looking forward to this event- a treat to celebrate Hayley’s birthday. Lemsips packed then its off to Purbeck- children, camping equipment, virus and all.

 

Thanking God for 25 years of marriage

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Yesterday afternoon I took great pleasure in dropping in on the Pitts family - all  of them regular members of Saint Anselm’s Church. The reason being that Antony (our director of music) and his wife Karen were celebrating 25 years of married life together.

And so after a glass of something refreshingly bubbly we gathered in the heart of their home ‘the welcome stranger’ (a former chapel and also a former pub) with the fruit of their union- five wonderful children. Together we prayed as Antony and Karen re-affirmed their vows to one another and, in my capacity as a priest, I imparted God’s blessing on them (note the use of the Ordinariate service book). It was a very special moment.

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We are blessed with many lovely families at Saint Anselm’s. They bring us so much life, fun and energy. And so I am thankful for their presence. We need to support families and, in turn, need them to witness to the wider world about God’s plan for sexual life. Marriage matters and you only need to look at the joy within the Pitts household to see how being a family that lives by the teaching of the Church brings them all that much closer together.

And I am thankful too for the musical ministry of the Pitts within our church. They all sing in the choir which has earnt them the nickname  of the “VanPitts family” (Sound of Music fans will understand) There is a talent here that really aids our liturgical ability.

Congratulations then to Antony and Karen on 25 years of married life! Here is to the next 25 years….and thank you for inviting me into your home and letting me share this special moment with you.

Fr Baron on anti-Catholic prejudice

As you go through life as a Catholic, especially if you are serious about your faith, you will inevitably face hostility at some time or another. This is because anti-Catholic prejudice is widespread in the media and at all levels of society. Why is this? Partly because of history -the English reformation led to the longest single persecution of  a religious body in the history of the world- and partly because of a deliberate sidelining of Christian faith by the current secular culture.

What then do we make of it when we are provoked or attacked for our beliefs? How best to respond? Archbishop Fulton Sheen made a salient point when he urged us not to take it personally but with good grace because, after all, most  cynicism and hatred about Catholicism is due to ignorance and not actually based on fact.

“They [bigots] do not really hate the Church. They hate only what they mistakenly believe the Church to be. If I had heard the same lies about the Church they have heard, and if I had been taught the same historical perversions as they, with my own peculiar character and temperament, I would hate the Church ten times more than they do…”

It is a good point. Our response must therefore be to patiently explain our beliefs, demonstrating by our lives that we are, in fact, sane, fulfilled and joyful people. For if we can but help people to understand what we actually believe, as opposed to what they imagine we believe, then I am certain the result will be evangelistic. That is to say we will win souls for Christ. And it is for this reason that apologetics is important for the Church of the 21st Century. How well do YOU know your faith? How proficient are you at explaining it to other people in a way that is warm and not hostile?

Devonshire fun

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This was the spectacular view at the the restaurant in Gara Rock where the family enjoyed a special meal yesterday to mark the end of our South Devon holiday. As you can see- Gussy loved it!

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In many ways it proved to be a quintessentially English family holiday. Lots of sandwich lunches and ice-cream treats, swimming in the sea, exploring caves and beaches and a visit to the zoo. We all loved every minute- how important for families to spend quality time together. Time in which to bond and laugh and just mess around. Images to follow.

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Today we packed up for the journey home stopping off en route at Buckfast Abbey for the 10:30am Morning Mass. It was a real pleasure to concelebrate in such a beautiful liturgical space. The Mass was said beautifully and accompanied by plainsong. Afterwards there was coffee and biscuits and the chance to catch up with old friends.

Caroline Farey was present  and in rude health, regaling me with such positive and exciting news about the new ‘School of the Annunciation’ that has been set up at Buckfast. It is very much a centre for the new evangelisation, offering academic courses and summer schools to all. One such person attending a course this very weekend was full of praise for it- Lindsay- a member of Saint Anselm’s congregation! How funny to see her there today- small world…

The Abbot was also present and we shared a conversation about matters ecclesial. He seems a very good thing. And finally I was stopped by somebody who informed me I look a lot like Father Ed Tomlinson of the Ordinariate.  ‘Hmmm only  sometimes’ was my reply…before I came clean!

A great morning then which got even better as we met with old friends from Brentwood days, Steve and Becky Morris, who had travelled down from South Wales with their delightful boys to be with us for lunch. They too are now Catholic. It was great catching up with them and seeing them all so well. Here are the children all enjoying an ice-cream together.

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It was then time for the long haul back to Kent. Groan…how can so many cars be on the road on a Sunday evening? A few restful days at home now follow before we enjoy the Purbeck Folk Festival over the bank holiday weekend. A novel experience for us -we are not folkies at all! But something totally new and a treat for Hayley’s birthday last month. It should be fun!

Ordinariate in Dawlish

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A morning spent at a National Trust property in Torbay and then onto Dawlish for a funfair, ice creams and a paddle in the sea. Dawlish is also home to Fr David Lashbrook of the Ordinariate, and his wife Lizzie and four children. So a perfect place to stop for supper- what a welcome we received! We are pictured above during the cooking process.

The visit also allowed me to preview the DVD that has been produced for the “called to be one” day. It is really good but needs a few more photographs for the start and finish. So…if you are a member of an Ordinariate Group and have a photograph of any activity. Send it to lashy@me.com by the end of the week.