The familiar parable of the Good Samaritan given us by the Lord in today’s gospel is an illustration of the equally familiar words, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” In Saint Luke’s account of this episode these words are uttered by a lawyer who, seeking to justify himself – that is, to show himself in a good light before others – goes on to ask to ask the Lord, “And who is my neighbour?” In both Saint Mark and Saint Matthew’s account of the same scene, it is the Lord who pronounces these familiar words in response to the lawyers’ enquiry as to the most important commandment in the law. What then can we learn from Saint Luke’s unique presentation? In essence it is this: that the lawyer or scribe, a master of the Mosaic law either way, understood the words of the law, but not their true meaning and application. And that, secondly, Christ truly comes (as he says elsewhere in the scriptures) not to abolish the law, but to fulfil it (Mt. 5:17).
I recently gave three short introductory talks for a course on Liturgical Spirituality. Recordings of the talks are available via Soundcloud (above), and the handouts mentioned in the talks are available to download below. These talks are based around two principal ideas: first, that authentic Christian spirituality is liturgical in its essence and foundation. Secondly, we can discover more about how to live this liturgical spirituality by considering the sacred liturgy in relation to the life of God, the life of the Church, and the life of the individual Christian.
God is in his holy habitation; it is he that maketh brethren to be of one mind in an house: he will give the dominion and preeminence unto his people.
These words from the Introit come from Psalm 67. But what is the Lord’s “holy habitation” and what does it mean for those who dwell in it “to be of one mind”? First, the holy habitation is the household of God. Under the old covenant the Israelites were gathered together into the people of God. Through the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross the new covenant extends the mercy of God to all who choose to share in his life. Thus through the gift of baptism all are invited into a personal-passionate relationship with the Lord. Those who respond are joined to the very person of Christ; caught up in the life of the fullness of God, and thus called “no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir” (Gal. 4:7).
In the Second Reading we have just heard from the Epistle to the Romans, Saint Paul writes: “The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.” We all know that prayer is an essential part of the Christian life. Yet the reality is we often fail to know how to pray, and perhaps on occasions even fail to pray, or at least fail to pray as we ought.
This article is taken from the Newsletter of the Friends of the Ordinariate (Summer 2020). You can view the article and support the work of the Friends by visiting the website: http://friendsoftheordinariate.org.uk
Letter from America
Washington is a great city for walking. Arriving back in town at the end of a mild winter, I have spent the last few months taking advantage of the lighter evenings and warmer weekends to relearn my way around the downtown area and, more selfishly, to lose a couple of pounds in the process. Happily I’ve found that a good walk from my home at Saint Mary’s in Chinatown to the National Mall, and back again, takes about the same time as a podcast of Choral Evensong on Radio 3. The present restrictions on movement are not as strictly-enforced as seems to be the case in England, and the improving weather (to say nothing of a more flexible routine) means I am still able to take advantage of a daily stroll.
I was recently interviewed on The Cordial Catholic Podcast on my own journey to the Catholic Church and the role and purpose of the personal ordinariates. K. Albert Little, the presenter of The Cordial Catholic, is himself a former Protestant who came into the Catholic Church around the time of Anglicanorum cœtibus.
Every time we come to the Mass, the Lord in His divine providence nourishes us not just with the awesome gift of His Most Holy Body and Blood, but also with His sacred word. The texts of the Mass, the readings and prayers, speak not only to the mystery we celebrate in general terms, but to the particular celebration in its context. Today’s Mass is no exception. Let us begin with a question: Why have Catholics been so frustrated at not being able to attend Mass during the present health crisis? The answer is, I think, found in liturgy today. First, we recall that the Mass is not a thing. It is not just the best form of prayer (though it is); an activity or something we do. It is not the way Catholics ‘do church,’ in contradistinction to other Christians. Rather, the Mass is the Christian life. It is more than a ritual or ceremony or service; it is the action of God in which we, through baptism, are invited to participate. It does not begin with the Sign of the Cross and end with the Blessing; it is the life of the Most Holy Trinity which, through our incorporation into Christ in baptism, is our life also. So for Catholics the Mass is fundamental; essential. In the present crisis food stores and hospitals have rightly been considered essential by the civil authorities. In a very real sense the Most Holy Eucharist is our food and our health, our salvation.
Here is a recent interview with Pierpaolo Finaldi, CEO and Publisher of the Catholic Truth Society, on the life and mission of the personal ordinariates. The CTS publishes Divine Worship: The Missal, Divine Worship: Occasional Services, and Divine Worship: Pastoral Care of the Sick and Dying. They are currently working on the Divine Office for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross.
When I first lived in Washington, DC I had the privilege of living at the parish of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian down on East Capitol Street. The church there is well worth a visit if you haven’t been. Dedicated as it is to the Holy Comforter, the Spirit who strengthens, its decoration is full of imagery related to not only to the Holy Spirit, but also to the feast of Pentecost. Outside there are short quotations from that exquisite Sequence, Veni Sancte Spiritus, probably written by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Stephen Langton, which we hear in this Mass. Inside the walls are painted a deep red, and over the altar a canopy presents the text of the Introit from this Mass: Spiritus Domini replevit orbem terrarum; the Spirit of the Lord fills the whole world. The words are apt, for from the top of the canopy small pinnacles seem to leap like flames. And around the church, on its walls, are paintings of the many missionary saints of the Church’s history each with one of these little flames atop their head. The apostles are there, as are their successors; the missionaries of the Church to every land: Saint Boniface to Germany, Saint Francis Xavier to China, Saint Augustine to England, Saint Patrick to Ireland. Each of them is depicted engaged in the work of evangelization, each of them fulfilling that mandate of the Lord: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”