Letter from Fr. Allen - January 10, 2019

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Dear Friends,

Like everything else involving the Church's liturgy, there are disagreements about when the proper ending of the Christmas season ought to be, and of course throughout both the history and the broad geographical and cultural expanse of the Church, there are differing traditions on that matter: does it conclude with the Epiphany on 6 January? With Candlemas on 2 February? Why not extend it to 24 March and then start the whole process over again on the following day, the Solemnity of the Annunciation? Well, as an official liturgical matter, in the Western Rite of the Church, the Christmas season now ends this Sunday, the Baptism of the Lord. So, one last time: Merry Christmas!

If Christmastide is ending, then school must be beginning. Wednesday School resumes next week, on 16 January. Catechesis will continue for young people, and the adults will start a new study, "The Prayers of the Mass," in which we will look at the proper "orations" - Collect of the Day, Prayer over the Offerings, and Postcommunion - for the coming Sunday, with the hope of informing and increasing our "active participation" in Mass. And not only will we talk about praying, but we will actually pray Compline together each week. There's a notice [here], and please be sure to RSVP for supper.

There will be a meeting for parents of children anticipating First Communion or Confirmation during Wednesday School on 30 January.

I also commend to your attention and charity and prayer Josh and Katie Johnson and their children, born and unborn - a beautiful Ordinariate family from Greenville. Please read about their plight [here] and give prayerful consideration to how you might support them.

God bless you,
Fr Allen

Letter from Fr. Allen - January 3, 2019

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Dear Friends,

While more personal notes are forthcoming, I want here to express my gratitude to all of you who made this such a lovely Christmas for me and my family. You all love us well, and we are very grateful! (My children are particularly grateful to the anonymous giver of two Harry & David Cinnamon Swirls...)

Of course Christmas is not yet over, and I hope your celebrations continue. And speaking of celebrations, I hope you will join us for the great feast of the Epiphany this Sunday, not only for Mass in the morning, but for also Evensong and Benediction at 4.30PM, which will be followed by a reception featuring King Cake - y'all come! [Update Saturday morning, 5 January: Evensong is cancelled due to illness. The King Cake reception will now take place immediately after 11.00AM Sunday Mass.]

The Epiphany is rich and symbolism and mystery: there are the "wise men from the east," the star that guided them, Herod's rage. There are Epiphany traditions: the blessing of chalk and marking of doorways (see [here]) and King cakes. But at its heart Epiphany is the story of a God who is not silent but reveals himself to those who earnestly and diligently seek him. Let us take the magi, these mysterious strangers, as our model, and never turn back from the path on which God is leading us, till at last we see the Lord face to face, and like the wise men, fall down and worship.

Pope Benedict put it this way:
"Let us return to the Wise Men from the East. These were also, and above all, men of courage, the courage and humility born of faith. Courage was needed to grasp the meaning of the star as a sign to set out, to go forth – towards the unknown, the uncertain, on paths filled with hidden dangers. We can imagine that their decision was met with derision: the scorn of those realists who could only mock the reveries of such men. Anyone who took off on the basis of such uncertain promises, risking everything, could only appear ridiculous. But for these men, inwardly seized by God, the way which he pointed out was more important than what other people thought. For them, seeking the truth meant more than the taunts of the world, so apparently clever."

God bless you,
Fr Allen

Letter from Fr. Allen - December 20, 2018

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Dear Friends,

The waiting is almost over and Christmas is almost here. On this fourth Sunday of Advent we will hear again of Our Lady's reaction to the Angel Gabriel's message, which is active love. She goes "in haste" to her kinswoman Elizabeth, bearing a child in her old age, to help and console her, and also to share her joy. In this Christmas season, let us also respond to the glad tidings of the Lord's nativity with active love, seeking out the poor, the sick, the lonely with help and comfort.

I hope by now your preparations are nearly complete for Christmas in your own homes, and that with at least some measure of peace and quietness you will be able to enter in to the mystery of this Child in the manger who is Emmanuel, God-with-us. You will see [here] a schedule of Christmas Masses for St. Mary's (Roman Missal) and Corpus Christi (Divine Worship). I want especially to encourage you to attend, if you are able, our own "Midnight Mass" on Christmas Eve, which will begin at 11PM and have us adoring our Eucharistic Emmanuel, God-with-us on the altar just at midnight. I know (trust me!) that Midnight Mass is difficult, but I believe you will find it more than worth the sacrifice as, with the shepherds of old to whom the angels first announced the birth of the Lord, we keep watch by night, and then rejoice to find "this most holy night to shine with the brightness of the Light of life," as we will pray in the collect. (By the way, as part of our candlelight adoration, we will sing "Silent Night"; did you know this Christmas marks the carol's 200th anniversary?)

Do you need further aesthetic or more mundane encouragement? Well, on the one hand, the music will be beautiful, and on the other, the parking will be easy. So come, let us adore him!

God bless you!
Fr. Allen

Letter from Fr. Allen - December 13, 2018

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Dear Friends,
 

Advent is a season rich in symbols and in devotions for the faithful, both ancient and new. Let me highlight just two, one briefly and the other at more length. First, this Sunday we keep the more recent tradition of blessing the Christchild figurines from our home crèches. Please bring your own Christchild to Mass; they will be collected by children of the parish who will present them to be blessed at the conclusion of Mass.

Another Advent devotion, this one more ancient, is a series of anthems for the last seven days of the season (so always 17 - 23 December) known as the "Great O Antiphons." The earliest reference I know to the "O Antiphons" is from Boethius, writing about the year 500, and they have been part of the Daily Office/Liturgy of the Hours since at least that time. The anthems are now sung or said before and after the Magnificat at Evening Prayer, and they also form the verse for the Alleluia before the Gospel at Mass on their proper days.

Each of the anthems addresses the Lord with a Messianic title taken from the Hebrew Scriptures, and then beseeches the Lord to come and redeem us with imagery more or less appropriate to the title. So, to take just one example, "O Key of David... come and bring the prisoner out of the prison house" (cf Is 22.22). Another layer of meaning is added when, working backwards from the last antiphon, the initial letter of each title is taken to form an acrostic in Latin, ERO CRAS - or, "Tomorrow, I will come."

There is one more of these antiphons not included in the Roman Missal and peculiar to our patrimony in the Ordinariates; It shows up in our missal as the Alleluia verse for the morning Mass on Christmas Eve day, O Virgo virginum: 

O Virgin of virgins, how shall this be? For neither before thee was any like thee, nor shall there be after. Daughters of Jerusalem, why marvel ye at me? The thing which ye behold is a divine mystery.


This was an eighth "O Antiphon" in medieval England, when that green and pleasant land was known as "Mary's Dowery." With this antiphon, the reverse acrostic then becomes VERO CRAS - "Verily, I shall [come]."

All of the Great O Antiphons are provided for you [here]. I encourage you to meditate on them in these latter days of Advent and to enter more deeply into the mystery of redemption that is brought to us through this Child who comes to us. You might especially make them part of your family devotions, either as you say grace at meals, or at the lighting of your Advent Wreath, or as a devotion before your home crèche.

God bless you,
Fr Allen

P.S. An update for those of you who have ordered the Divine Worship Missal: People's Edition - the missals have been ordered and are expected to ship from England this Monday. There is just this slightest chance that they may be here by Christmas Day, but more likely they will arrive a couple days after Christmas. In any case, as soon as they arrive I will let you know, and we will have them available to be picked up at Mass. And yes, there will be extra copies available for purchase if you have not pre-ordered.

Letter from Fr. Allen - December 7, 2018

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Dear Friends,

[Here] you will see a short video about the music of Advent featuring Dr. Sara Pecknold, a professor of sacred music at the Catholic University of America. I encourage you to watch. Advent features some of the Church's most beautiful and poignant music, songs filled with longing and expectation. This Sunday we will sing one of my own favorite Advent hymns: Conditor alme siderum. It is a Latin hymn dating back to the 7th century, and in the Breviary it is assigned to be sung at Vespers during Advent. We know it in its English translation by great Oxford Movement hymn writer John Mason Neal, "Creator of the stars of night." This ancient hymn enfolds within itself all of salvation history, from our Lord's first coming in great humility - 

Thou cam’st, the Bridegroom of the bride,

As drew the world to evening-tide;
Proceeding from a virgin shrine,
The spotless victim all divine.

 

To that great day when he shall come again in his glorious majesty - 

O Thou whose coming is with dread
 To judge and doom the quick and dead,
 Preserve us, while we dwell below,
 From every insult of the foe.

 

Advent calls us to keep both these comings of the Lord in our minds and in our hearts, so that we may, redeemed and renewed by his first coming, then "without shame or fear rejoice to behold his appearing" (as we pray in the Advent preface) at his second.

Saturday, of course, we take a step out of Advent to celebrate the beautiful Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. This will be a special day in the life our community as we receive a new family, the Carlsons, into the full communion the Catholic Church. This Mass will also inaugurate a new ministry for girls, the Guild of St. Margaret Clitherow. This will be an opportunity for the girls to meet and grow together in their faith and love for the Lord, but the most visible manifestation of this ministry will be the girls' participation in leading Marian devotions at Mass on appropriate feast days. The collect for St Margaret Clitherow asks God to "raise up in our day women of courage and resource to care for thy household the Church," and that exactly is our hope for what God will accomplish in and through the members of this new guild. 

God bless you,
Fr Allen

Letter from Fr. Allen - November 29, 2018

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Dear Friends,

This Sunday, difficult as it is to believe, is the first Sunday of Advent, and the wheel of our annual cycle of devotion will turn one more time, and the rush of Christmas preparations, secular and sacred and those two jumbled together, is suddenly upon us.

"Time flies!", we shout. "Where does the time go?", we ask. That sensation we all share of time rushing past - or even, perhaps when we were children longing for Christmas morning, of time so-slowly creeping past - is a sign to us, even a timely Advent-ish reminder, that though we dwell in time, we are never quite at home in time. (Here, by the way, is my favorite attempt to declare peace with time's passing, which turns, inevitably, melancholic: Sandy Denny's beautiful song with Fairport Convention, "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?" - I also like Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs brilliant cover.)

That sense of dislocation is an especially appropriate and helpful in Advent. Jesus is coming; history is either rushing or crawling toward its end, depending upon your perspective. As we will pray in Sunday's collect:  as once he "came to visit us in great humility... he shall come again in his glorious majesty, to judge both the quick and the dead." Our unease with time reminds us that we share with aged Simeon his longing and expectation for Israel's consolation, that this world as it is is not as it ought to be, not what God will one great day remake it to be, when his kingdom is fully come: "a kingdom of truth and life; a kingdom of grace and holiness; a kingdom of peace, of love, and righteousness," as we prayed at last Sunday's Mass of Christ the King. C.S. Lewis wrote of our odd and unsettled to time's passing this way:

Do fish complain of the sea for being wet? Or if they did, would that fact itself not strongly suggest that they had not always been, or would not always be, purely aquatic creatures? Then, if we complain of time and take such joy in the seemingly timeless moment, what does that suggest? It suggests that we have not always been or will not always be purely temporal creatures. It suggests that we were created for eternity. Not only are we harried by time, we seem unable, despite a thousand generations, even to get used to it. We are always amazed by it--how fast it goes, how slowly it goes, how much of it is gone. Where, we cry, has the time gone? We aren't adapted to it, not at home in it. If that is so, it may appear as a proof, or at least a powerful suggestion, that eternity exists and is our home.

Time flies, time creeps, but Advent is a privileged time for turning again to the Lord, who is our consolation and our hope, who says, “Surely I am coming soon." To which our patient and expectant keeping of Advent embodies our reply: "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!"

God bless you and grant you a watchful Advent,
Fr Allen

Letter from Fr. Allen - November 22, 2018

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Dear Friends,

Happy Thanksgiving! By the time this newsletter sloshes into your inbox, I hope you are viewing the world reading this through a tryptophan-induced somnolent haze! Today we give thanks especially for the bounty of this beautiful land and fruitful land. And as we give thanks, let us pray also for those who do not share in its bounty, and then let us resolve and act so that they may. I encourage you to think now of the concrete ways you may help the poor during this holiday season, remembering always that we are the unworthy recipients God's grace to us in Jesus Christ. And so, as we (sometimes!) hear prior to the Offertory at Mass: I beseech you brethren, by the mercies of God, to present yourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. And to  remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'

Speaking of giving, next Sunday is the Ordinariate's annual second collection for the Retirement Fund for Priests. Please keep me and my confreres in bait and tackle in our senescent decrepitude! More information is below, and you may give electronically here.

Below you will also again see information for the purchase of the "People's Edition" of our Missal. This is a book you will use! It includes the order of Mass and all of the readings and prayers for every Sunday and solemnity of the year. See below to reserve your copy today.

God bless you,
Fr Allen

Letter from Fr. Allen - November 15, 2018

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Dear Friends,

I'm very pleased to tell you that the Catholic Truth Society, the publishing house that produced our Divine Worship Missal and Book of Occasional Services - our official liturgical books - will next month publish The Divine Worship Sunday Missal (People's Edition). This book is meant, as the subtitle indicates, to aid the prayer and devotion and foster the "active participation" of the people attending Mass. It will include all of the prayers and biblical readings (in our translation) for every Sunday and Solemnity of the year, as well as all parts of the Mass in our Ordinariate form. These books are beautifully and solidly produced, and so not inexpensive. But to encourage purchase and use of this book by our people, Corpus Christi will place a bulk order, which will allow a substantial savings (approximately $13.00 for an individual copy) on shipping. The cost is $40.00, and we will be taking orders for only a limited time - until December 4th. Just in time for Christmas! To reserve your copy, click here! You'll see more information at the link.

I should also say that we hope soon to see the publication of another book for the Ordinariate - the St Gregory Prayer Book. This is will be more of a personal manual of devotion, including the order of Mass (but not the proper prayers and lessons), and various prayers and devotions such as Stations of the Cross, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, forms for daily prayer, Marian devotions, and so on. We also still await the Holy See's approval of our Daily Office (you might pray for that happy day!).

God bless you,
Fr Allen

Letter from Fr. Allen from the annual clergy assembly - October 25, 2018

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Dear Friends,

Greetings from the Cathedral of Our Lady of Walsingham and our Ordinariate Chancery in Houston, where I am attending the annual clergy assembly of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter. The days are full of meetings, but also well seasoned with fellowship and prayer. As our diocese spans the continent, it is good to have this opportunity to see our bishop (who sends his greetings!) and my brother priests in the Ordinariate. Yesterday we had a beautiful choral evensong, for which we were joined by Archbishop Christoph Pierre, the papal nuncio (the Pope's personal representative) to the United States - a great honor for us and a reminder that the Ordinariates continue to have notice and care at the highest levels of the universal Church.

I can report to you that we continue to grow numbers, in ministry, and in spiritual vibrancy - indeed, the growth we have seen at Corpus Christi in the last year is being experienced across the Ordinariate. While here, we are having "business" meetings (administrative policies, safe environment guidelines, etc) and also conferences facilitated by the St John Paul II Foundation on ministry to families. We are also eating a lot.

Good as it is to be here, I look forward to returning home to my family and to seeing all of you at Mass on Sunday. Please remember this Sunday is also our monthly Evensong & Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament - do come and pray with us.

Thursday, November 1st, is All Saints Day, a holy day of obligation. Masses will be celebrated 8AM and 6PM.

Friday, November 2nd, is All Souls' Day, with Masses at 12PM and 6PM. Please see below for information about submitting names of loved ones to be remembered at these Masses. 

God bless you,
Fr Allen

Letter from Fr. Allen - October 11, 2018

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Dear Friends,

Time flies! Here we are in the middle of October, though we are still dodging hurricanes and if autumn has arrived the humidity hasn't gotten the news. But November will soon be here and with it the great feasts of the Church Triumphant and Expectant. You will see notices for both All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day below. I remind you that All Saints' is a Holy Day of Obligation.

As a happy prelude to All Saints' Day and a reminder of the joy and comfort of the saints' intercession and companionship, this Sunday brings the canonization in Rome of six blesseds. They are:

  • Paul VI (Giovanni Battista Montini), Supreme Pontiff;

  • Oscar Arnulfo Romero Galdámez, archbishop of San Salvador, martyr;

  • Francesco Spinelli, diocesan priest, founder of the Institute of the Sisters Adorers of the Most Holy Sacrament;

  • Vincenzo Romano, diocesan priest;

  • Maria Katharina Kasper, virgin, founder of the Institute of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ;

  • Nazaria Ignacia de Santa Teresa de Jesús (née: Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa), founder of the Congregation of the Missionary Crusaders of the Church.

Get to know these dear saints!

All Souls', while not obligatory, is an important and sweet day as well, as we pray for the repose of our faithful departed loved ones. To submit names of loved ones to be remembered at All Souls' Day Masses, please do so on the form here. May God grant them rest!

God bless you,
Fr Allen

[Editor’s note: You can watch the canonizations of the six Blesseds live Sunday morning, 14 October 2018, starting at 3.30AM Eastern time on EWTN. An encore will air at 12.00 noon. This article details more ways to find live and encore broadcasts of the canonization Mass. ]

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Letter from Fr. Allen on the Leonine Prayers - September 27, 2018

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Dear Friends,

In 1884, with turmoil in Italy leading to the loss of the Papal States (those portions of Italy over which the Pope had temporal/political sovereignty), Pope Leo XIII prescribed a set of prayers to be prayed after Mass by priest and people: three Hail Mary's; Hail, Holy Queen; and a collect (soon standardized as a prayer for "the liberty and exaltation of our Holy Mother, the Church"), to which was also soon added the prayer to St Michael the Archangel. These became known as the "Leonine Prayers." 

There was some adjustment over the years both in form and intention: Pope Pius X allowed for a three-fold invocation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and Pope Pius XI asked that the prayers be particularly offered for the conversion of Russia and for the freedom of Catholics there to practice their faith. These prayers were said after every Mass until 1965, when they were suppressed in an instruction regarding the implementation of the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.

Since the revelations of abuse this summer, many parishes and even some entire dioceses have returned to the use of these prayers. And beginning this Sunday, immediately after the dismissal at each Mass for both Corpus Christi and St Mary's, we will pray the Leonine prayers. Writing to the people of St. Mary's, Fr. West has said "We ask one another, 'What can we do?'  The first line of defense against sin and evil is prayer, our best sword and shield. All of us need to commit to praying frequently and fervently against the dark forces which seek the ruin of souls, families, marriages, schools, houses of worship, and any other noble pillar of human society."

And so we offer these prayers particularly for the protection of the Church and her ministers against the attacks of the enemy that have led to and exploit this time of grave scandal in the Church. While it is true that we must discern and enact those reforms necessary for the protection of our children and to promote the faithfulness of the Church's ministers, this is also and at root a spiritual battle which must be fought with spiritual weapons. The Leonine prayers are a strong and tested arrow in our quiver.

For just this reason, Pope St. John Paul II encouraged a more frequent use of these prayers, particularly the prayer to St Michael:

May prayer strengthen us for the spiritual battle we are told about in the Letter to the Ephesians, "Draw strength from the Lord and from his mighty power" (Eph 6.10). The Book of Revelation refers to this same battle recalling before our eyes the image of St. Michael the Archangel (Rev. 12.7). Pope Leo XIII certainly had a very vivid recollection of this scene when, at the end of the last century, he introduced a special prayer to St Michael throughout the Church. "St Michael the Archangel defend us in battle, be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil." Although today this prayer is no longer recited at the end of Mass, I ask everyone not to forget it, and to recite it to obtain help in the battle against the forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world. [24 April 1994]

There will be a card in the pew racks for you to use, and they are included [here]. We will pray the Leonine prayers at least through Advent in place of the Last Gospel (the Hail Mary's and Hail, Holy Queen also serve to commemorate the Incarnation which is the devotional heart of the Last Gospel).
 

God bless you,
Fr Allen

Letter from Fr. Allen - September 20, 2018

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Dear Friends,

Well, my vocabulary has increased by one neologism: "hurrication." Last week when we were confidently informed that Hurricane Florence would be making an unwelcome and extended visit to the Lowcountry, Fr West and I decided to cancel all activities through the weekend, and my family and I skedaddled to Atlanta. I'm grateful for the time we had with family and old friends there, but I am sorry to have missed being with all of you at the Lord's Altar. In any case, this Sunday we will together give thanks for having been spared the storm's rain and winds, and also pray for our neighbors (quite near) who have suffered so terribly. [Here] you will see information for donating to relief of those impacted by Florence, and I encourage you prayerfully to consider making a gift.

After a week's weather-imposed delay, things are very suddenly getting very busy for us:

  • This Friday, 9/21, is Ember Friday in September, a day of abstinence for Ordinariate members. I encourage you to join me for a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament in reparation for the sins of abuse in the Church and for the healing and wholeness of victims. The Holy Hour will be from 7 - 8.00PM.

  • Our Wednesday School program of family supper, class for adults, and catechesis of the Good Shepherd for children begins next week - Wednesday, 9/26; supper at 5.30PM; class at 6.00PM.

  • Next Sunday, 9/30, at 4.00PM will be our first Evensong & Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament of the fall.

Finally, we are in need of nursery workers for Wednesday nights. These are paid positions; if you or anyone you know of might be interested, please email me.

God bless you,
Fr Allen

Letter from Fr. Allen - September 6, 2018

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Dear Friends,

I'm very much looking forward to the beginning of our Fall Christian formation program - "Wednesday School" - and hope you will consider participating if you have not in the past. We have a simple supper in the parish hall beginning at 5.30PM, our Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program for children and class for adults start at 6(-ish)PM, and we make sure everyone is on their way home by 7PM. Read here for more about our offerings.

Parents of children in Catechesis must register their children and also attend the Safe Environment workshop this coming Wednesday (9/12) at 5.30PM in the church. Please read more about the Safe Environment meeting here.

If you would like help by volunteering to provide one of our Wednesday evening meals or a portion thereof (let us not neglect dessert as is the habit of some!), please contact Judi.

We are also hoping to provide a nursery for children below Catechesis age. If you or someone you know would be interested in staffing the nursery, please let me know.

God bless you,
Fr Allen

Letter from Fr. Allen announcing Day of Penance, Wednesday School

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Dear Friends,

I had a wonderful weekend away with my son Henry at Alpine Camp, scene of many happy childhood memories for me. I missed being with you on Sunday, but you may appreciate knowing that I offered Mass at 4.45 in the morning because I forgot I was in the Central time zone!

Please give your attention to two items:



Wednesday School
The school year is back under way, and it is time for us to begin again with our Wednesday School programs. These will begin with our Safe Environment meeting for parents on Wednesday, September 12, at 5.30PM in the church. There will also be a program for children that night while parents have an opportunity to review the safe environment materials and talk briefly with me about the issues concerning the safety of our children in the Church. The children's program will not be a safe environment/"Teaching Touching Safety" program, but rather a quick and fun Catechesis of the Good Shepherd introduction with our director, Scarlett Crawford. Parents will be given the safe environment children's materials - when and how and in what terms to communicate this information to children is left to the discretion of parents who, after all, know their own children best. Having said that, the parents' meeting is mandatory in order to enroll children in our Catechesis program; if you are unable to attend on Wednesday, September 12, and would like your child(ren) to participate in Catechesis, please let me know so that we may arrange a make-up date. Our first classes, for children and adults, will be the following Wednesday, September 19th, with family supper at 5.30PM and class beginning at 6PM. Everyone goes home by 7PM. See more - including a link for registration - [here]!

A Day of Penance
Last week, we heard from Bishop Lopes regarding these latest terrible revelations of the scandal of abuse in the Church (scandal which has intensified even in the last week). Bishop Lopes invited us to offer the fall Ember Friday (September 21) as a day of penance for the renewal of the Church and healing of victims of abuse. To that end, I invite you to join me in a Holy Hour of prayer and penance in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament on that day, from 7 - 8PM.  (For understanding the Ember Days in general, see here.)

I have been asked why we ought to do penance for the sins of others - a good and fair question. Briefly:

  • Because the Church is, as St Paul teaches us, one Body, though it has many members. We are not all, of course, personally guilty of these crimes, but we all are, in a sense, implicated. St Francis began in just this way; he never intended to found a religious order, but rather to be a penitent, offering his own self-chosen poverty, with all of its hunger, want, and suffering, in reparation for the sins of all against God's love. So also we are doing penance for the sins of those deacons, priests, bishops, and others in the Church against children and the vulnerable.

  • Because penance intensifies our prayer. This is why fasting and prayer are so closely associated. By fasting we are, as it were, "putting our money where our mouth is" and demonstrating (and so also fostering) the urgency of our desire and the depth of our sorrow - going without, or voluntarily bearing some cross, in order to gain some good thing or end. As we hear from the prophet Joel at the beginning each Lent: "Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the Lord your God; and cry to the Lord."

  • Finally, because it is what Jesus did for us, and "we are," as again St. Paul teaches, "ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." By this penance, we seek to make reparation not only for our own sins, but for the sins of others in the Church.

This Ember Friday falls on the Feast of St. Matthew, and so is not a day of mandatory abstinence, but I invite you to join me in fasting and abstaining from meat that day, and then join me in prayer before our Lord, present in the Blessed Sacrament, that God may forgive our sins, heal his Church, and comfort and restore those who have been prayed upon.

God bless you,
Fr Allen

End of Summer Letter from Fr. Allen

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Dear friends,

Somehow, and very much without my acquiescence, the summer is winding down and "fall" - busy with activity - is upon us again. But, at least for me, and I know for many of you as well, the summer itself has been busy with activity. But here we are - our children return to school on Monday and door is closed on summer. 

But of course, all those "school year" activities are themselves, I hope, fun and enriching. And in that regard, you will shortly receive notice of our "Wednesday School" offerings and calendar. But for now, please note that on Wednesday, September 12, we will have our "safe environment" workshops for both parents and children (you will receive more information about that well beforehand), and the adult class and children's catechesis will begin the following week, on September 19.

Having said that, and with that "safe environment" note still ringing, I can't help but turn once again to Jeremiah, the weeping prophet: "The harvest is past, the summer is over, and we are not saved." This melancholy summing up comes to mind with the abuse scandals that once again wrack the Church. This is just to let you know that I will be speaking about the latest revelations of abuse in the homily this Sunday. It will be entirely G-rated, and of course I want to shine the redeeming - and purifying - light of the Gospel on the entire matter. In the meantime, I hope that you will keep yourself informed and pray, pray, pray:

O GRACIOUS Father, we humbly beseech thee for thy holy Catholic Church; that thou wouldest be pleased to fill it with all truth, in all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, establish it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of him who died and rose again, and ever liveth to make intercession for us, Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.

God bless you, 
Fr Allen

We are going to the East -- a letter from Fr. Allen

adoration-clipart-chalice.jpg

+JMJ+

Dear friends,

The image [shown below] at the top of this week's newsletter (chosen not by me but by erstwhile parish clerk Connie M.) is from the 15th century Ranworth Antiphoner (an antiphoner is a book of Mass and Office chants for use by the choir). One thing we might notice right away is that the priest is celebrating the Mass ad orientem, or, "to the East." That is, he is standing on the same side of the altar and facing the same direction as the (presumed) congregation, as is our custom at Corpus Christi and is indeed normal throughout the Ordinariate (and is actually normative, though not normal, throughout the Church).

I bring this up because of today's saint: St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross; or, as she more usually know, St. Edith Stein. Edith Stein was a Jew, a convert from Atheism, a professor of philosophy, and a Carmelite nun, murdered by the Nazis in the gas chambers of Auschwitz on 9 August 1942. Bishop Barron has a short but insightful reflection on her life and witness here, in the course of which he relates this story of her forced journey to Auschwitz:

'The sisters were held briefly in a camp in Holland and then were packed onto what amounted to a cattle car for the trip to Auschwitz. A former student of Edith’s reported an encounter with the nun when the train stopped briefly at a platform in Germany. After greeting her, Edith asked her to convey a message to the mother superior in Echt: “We are going to the East,” a sentence with both a literal and a spiritual meaning. She was undoubtedly trying to communicate information about their geographical destination, but “the East” is also mystical language for heaven and eternal life...'

"We are going to the East." The saint's statement reflects her firm belief, her "sure and certain hope" in the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come. This is precisely why in the churchyard at St. Mary's, with only two recently added exceptions, all 338 of the graves face east - that is, the direction of heaven and the returning Lord. Churches anciently were always build so that direction of prayer was toward the east. (St. Mary's is oddly oriented - meridianated? - to the south; I suppose this is due the exigencies of 18th century property availability.) I haven't done the research, but it's unlikely that St. Edith Stein ever attended Mass except facing literal east. For her, "going to the East" was going to the Lord.

Long ago, St. Augustine put it this way: 

"When we rise to pray, we turn East, where heaven begins. And we do this not because God is there, as if He had moved away from the other directions on earth..., but rather to help us remember to turn our mind towards a higher order, that is, to God."

This is why we celebrate Mass ad orientem (even if only figuratively). With Edith Stein and aided by her prayers, and with all the Church, "we are going to the East," and every Mass is another step in our journey to meet our Lord.

God bless you, 
Fr Allen

P.S. Please remember that Wednesday, 15 August, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is a holy day of obligation.

Update: Regarding the scandal involving Cardinal Theodore McCarrick about which I have previously written to you, I recommend the following letters and articles:

 

 

Hell and its fruit: a summer meditation on watermelon, the real God, and community

image source: PardeevilleWatermelonFestival.com 

image source: PardeevilleWatermelonFestival.com 

We all have our private metrics by which we determine the rate at which Western Civilization is declining, civil society deracinating and withering, and the world generally going to hell in a hand basket. I know this because there are curmudgeons in our midst (to be carefully distinguished from gorillas in the mist) who keep me informed. For some, the slide down into a well deserved cultural oblivion can be measured by the number of grammatical errors in The Post and Courier, for others in the sartorial standards of "kids today," and for still others (and you know who you are) in the ratio of video screens to hymnals and prayer books in Episcopal parishes.

Though not so curmudgeonly as some, I, too, try to read the signs of the times, and there is one sign I pay particular attention to each summer and which, I regret to report, bodes ill for truth, justice, and my way. I refer to the price of watermelons: $5.99 apiece this week at the Piggly Wiggly. Who ever heard of a six dollar watermelon? Six dollars! And not only are these melons exorbitantly priced, they are defective. They are "seedless." Leaving aside the botanical perversity of a fruit without seeds (cf. Gn 1.11), one of the great pleasures of watermelon eating is spitting the seeds over the porch rail or, perhaps, at one's sister, with points awarded for distance and accuracy.

image source: whataboutwatermelon.com 

image source: whataboutwatermelon.com 

And I'm afraid things are much worse than even a contrary-to-the-Divine-intent six dollar seedless watermelon would indicate. Because there, in a bin just next to the contrary-to-the-Divine-intent six dollar seedless watermelons, are, I kid you not, "personal watermelons," also without seeds. This is a small cultivar, about the size of an anemic cantaloupe, intended for consumption by one.

The personal watermelon is a signpost on the way to a particularly modern kind of hell - albeit, like Eve's apple, a delicious one.

Enabled by the incredible potencies of digital technology and urged on by marketing marksmen, we live in an age of ever-increasing personalization and, inevitably, privatization.   

This past spring, I happened to be driving late one afternoon down Calhoun Street past the MUSC bus stop. There must have been 25 or 30 people waiting on the bus, sitting along the low wall, and all of them – every single one of them – were hunched over, staring at the small screens of their smartphones, most with earphones. Here were people who worked in the same locale (if not actually together), who apparently lived in the same part of town, who at least had certain transportation needs or priorities in common, yet were not sharing stories, asking after one another's children, or making plans to get a beer together. They were 30 people together, but altogether alone, though their personal tastes – in music, in news, in reading – were being meticulously catered to through the magic of digital technology.

It is an isolating dynamic to which we middle class Americans, raised to be consumers, are particularly liable. In 2005, the sociologists Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist published Soul Searching: the Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers (Oxford University Press), in which they famously described the religion of young people (which they learn from their parents and in their churches) as "Moral Therapeutic Deism." They described this religion's god as,

"... primarily a divine Creator and Law giver. He designed the universe and establishes moral law and order. But this God is not Trinitarian; he did not speak through the Torah or the prophets of Israel, was never resurrected from the dead, and does not fill and transform people through his Spirit. This God is not demanding. He actually can't be, since his job is to solve our problems and make people feel good. In short, God is something like a combination Divine Butler and Cosmic Therapist."

"A Divine Butler and Cosmic Therapist" – in other words, a very personal and private Lord and Savior. There is, of course, a very important truth in the evangelical Protestant language of "personal Lord and Savior": I am a sinner, and I must repent, and I can and must because, it is true, Jesus loves me. But it is an easy slide into conceiving of a god who exists to serve me and my needs, to make me feel better about myself (absent any need for repentance), and who would not dare question, and wouldn't want me to question, the dictates of my own private judgment.

But the Gospel calls us out of ourselves and towards our neighbor. Jesus is the common Lord and Savior of all Christians, and we serve him together in his Church, which is his Bride – his one and only Bride, for, as it has been said, our Lord is no polygamist. He is calling us together into a new community of love, which is personal (real love always is) but not particularly private, because it is and must be shared. To prepare for that heaven, we must push back against the encroachments of our modern isolating hell. The place to begin, of course, is to share with our brothers and sisters in the Communion of Christ's Body and Blood at Mass. And perhaps a good second step is to share with friends and neighbors a very large, public, and social watermelon, complete with seeds, on a sunny summer Sunday afternoon.

-- Fr. Patrick Allen

image source: PardeevilleWatermelonFestival.com 

image source: PardeevilleWatermelonFestival.com 

Fr. Allen addresses the Cardinal McCarrick scandal

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+JMJ+

Dear friends,

In last Sunday's first reading, we heard the word of the Lord by the Prophet Jeremiah:

'Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!' says the Lord.

These last weeks have seen new revelations of shepherds within the Church who destroy and scatter the sheep. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the retired Archbishop of Washington D.C., has been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors and prohibited from exercising any public ministry. These accusations of abuse against minors have become the occasion, though, for the public airing of many more charges against the Cardinal - namely, that he was a sexual predator who used his position of power to coerce seminarians into sexual relationships, essentially purchasing their silence. It also turns out that two of his former dioceses paid settlements to men who accused the Cardinal of sexual harassment. But most distressing of all, it is now plain that many within the Church, including bishops, knew of McCarrick's proclivities but did nothing to stop him or prevent his rise through the ecclesiastical ranks. I myself have talked to priests who had heard these rumors decades ago when they themselves were seminarians. Journalists had verified these rumours but could get no one to go on record. When McCarrick was named Archbishop of Washington, a delegation of well-placed Catholics went to Rome to warn curial officials at the Vatican of McCarrick's abuse, and still no one acted. In short, everyone knew.

Here is a New York Times piece reporting on the accusations against McCarrick (warning: it is horrible to read). Here is a helpful analysis from the Catholic News Agency. I encourage you to read both.

As I say, it is distressing. It was painful for me as a Protestant contemplating conversion to the Catholic Church in 2002 when the abuse scandal here first exploded, and it is more painful now, as a Catholic and a priest, when it seems like 2002 all over again. But Jeremiah's invective against Israel's false shepherds reminds us that there is nothing new under the sun. It also tells us that God will judge our false shepherds. So while rightly distressed, we do not despair. We must pray that God will do whatever, and to whomever, is necessary to purify the Church from this filth in our own time, and especially that he would strengthen our bishops, who are our chief shepherds and pastors, to act boldly and transparently. We must pray for that, but we must also demand it from the bishops.

I am sorry to have to write to you about these things, but it is important for the good of the Church that you know, understand, pray, and act. And yes, there are many wonderful things happening in the Church and, indeed, in our own midst, and so we may pray with Jeremiah (who was not always weeping): 

It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed,
because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

Kyrie eleison.

God bless you,

Fr Allen

[Editor's note: in Fr. Allen's weekly letter to his parishioners on 9 Aug 2018, he referenced his letter from 26 Jul (above) and added the following.]

Update: Regarding the scandal involving Cardinal Theodore McCarrick about which I have previously written you, I recommend the following letters and articles:

Fr. Allen on the 50th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae

adoration-clipart-chalice.jpg

+JMJ+

Dear friends,

This coming Wednesday, July 25th (the Feast of St James), will mark the 50th Anniversary of Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae vitaewhich again confirmed the Church's perennial teaching concerning the vocation of marriage, including that sexual relations are ordered toward procreation, and so contraception is contrary to God's will and objectively sinful. Again, this is the Church's perennial teaching; it was not new or even a development of previous teaching when Humanae vitae was published. (Interestingly for us Catholics of Anglican background, that teaching had last received magisterial reaffirmation in Pope Pius XI's 1930 encyclical Casti connubii, issued in response to the 1930 Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, which had abandoned that perennial teaching with cascading consequences we know only too well.)

The prohibition of contraception marks the Church, like her Head whose Body she is, as a "sign of contradiction" in the modern world. Sexual pleasure and "freedom" is seen by most in our time as a - or even the - fundamental good to which all humans are entitled, to be had at one's whim and without any natural consequences, be emotional, relational, or biological (i.e., babies). But even among married Catholic couples striving to be faithful, and many others of good will as well, for whom sex is a unitive good and "mutual joy" within marriage, this teaching has proven difficult to receive and live out.

But its difficulty can be in no way a strike against its truth - indeed, why would we expect it to be? What is good in this fallen world is often difficult, and we would expect a good which sits so close to the center of our humanity - the love between husband and wife, the begetting and raising of children - to be obtained only with difficulty and, ultimately, when carried along by God's grace. But conformity with the truth is the only true freedom and always worth striving after. And the dire consequences, for individuals and our society, and especially for women and children, of living against the grain of God's truth are increasingly plain for all to see (cf. the articles by Mary Eberstadt linked below).

I often hear it said that, because they are unmarried, Catholic priests have no credibility when it comes to counseling married couple in this area. Well, that has always seemed silly to me. Chastity is chastity, and it seems obvious that those who are perpetually celibate might indeed have something to say to those who, for the sake of spacing children and cooperating with nature, might be only intermittently and briefly celibate. But, for what it's worth, I am a married Catholic priest, and happy to offer whatever counsel I may to Catholic couples who desire to order their sexual lives in accord with God's will, including of course the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I believe this difficult teaching of the Church is true and that it is a way to happiness and wholeness.

In the meantime, here are a couple resources to help those who want to understand the Church's teaching in this matter:

Again, I'm happy to talk (confidentially!) with any of you who wish to pursue this further, and to offer whatever pastoral and sacramental support I may as we all seek to live in to the beautiful truth of God's design for our bodies, for our families, for the Church.

God bless you, 
Fr Allen

Letter from Fr. Allen: July 12, 2018

adoration-clipart-chalice.jpg

+JMJ+

Dear friends,

In the image [below], our Infant Lord, seated in the lap of our Lady, holds an orb surmounted with a cross. This is not, as has been suggested by one or two of our parishioners, the "Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch." Rather, it is properly known as a globus cruciger, which simply means "cross-bearing orb." From the middle ages, it has represented Christ's lordship over the orb of the world. Iconography in which Jesus is depicted holding the globus cruciger is called a Salvator mundi ("Savior of the World"). Last year an idiot (I use the term advisedly) paid $450 million dollars for a Salvator mundi that may, or may not, be the work of Leonardo DaVinci. In fact much of the argument among art historians centers on the orb in that picture, which some experts feel is not up to Leonardo's usual standard.

In any case, images of Christ as Salvator mundi depict an important truth, which we need always before our eyes, straining as we sometimes do to see God's kind providence in this dark and fallen world. Christ is Redeemer of the world and reigns over the world, and he is bringing all things to their perfect consummation. Christ is, as St Paul writes to the Ephesians, "head over all things for the Church" (Eph 1.22).

In other words: he's got the whole world in his hands.

God bless you, 
Fr Allen

Our Lady of the Atonement 

Our Lady of the Atonement