Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Easter Day Sung Mass at St. Thomas More, Toronto


“When Christ our life appears, then you also will appear with him.”

Jesus is nowhere visible. Yet today's Gospel tells us that Peter and John "saw and believed."  Chosen to be "witnesses"  to the reality  of Christ risen from the dead. The Acts of the Apostles tells us that the Apostles were "commissioned...to preach...and testify" testify that they had seen Jesus - from His anointing with the Holy Spirit at the Jordan to the empty tomb.

In this sense the resurrection life (this new life of God’s power) had begun with Christ, the Son of God, when he was born as Jesus of Nazareth, a human person. Acts tells us, “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power: how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil.”  Jesus was going about doing good i.e. doing God’s will, healing the sick, forgiving sinners and proclaiming the Kingdom of God in the here and now, living his human life for the sake of others.

Beyond even their own experience, the Apostles were instructed in the mysteries of the divine economy, God's saving plan – to know how "all the prophets bear witness" to Christ (Luke 24: 27, 44).  Now they could "understand the Scripture," they could teach us what Jesus had revealed to them and how that related to what he did, by the power of God.   Jesus was "the Stone which the builders rejected," now he has become the head cornerstone; the Servant King who turning history and all notions of kingship upside down; Jesus who put the good of others ahead of his own wants or needs.

We are the beneficiaries and stewards of their apostolic witness. That is why we still gather on the first day of every week to celebrate this feast, to give thanks for "Christ our life," as today's Epistle calls Him.  This means that we live that resurrection life now not just seeking some future reward, we live the resurrection as we serve others in the name of the Lord:  we pray for the sick and visit them, we take a compassionate interest in others not just in our own ideas or projects. 

This means that in the face of the narcissism of Western Culture we choose to live in the light of the resurrection not individualistically but as a community, a community whose life is Christ:  Christ our life -- not my life but our life.  We share in the life of his body by submitting our time, talent and treasure to the good of His community – the Body of Christ so that his resurrection life may be manifest.

Baptized into His death and Resurrection, we live the life of the risen Christ, our lives  as St. Paul says: "hidden with Christ in God."  We are now His witnesses, too. So we are called to testify to things we cannot see but believe; we seek in earthly things what is above and we journey together to our own resurrection in the power of the resurrection of Jesus by attending, as he did, to the needs of others.

We live in the light of the Apostles' witness, like them eating and drinking with the risen Lord at the altar. And while we wait in hope for what the Apostles told us would come –  the day when we too "will appear with Him in glory" we live in the power of Christ’s resurrection serving others in his pattern and in his strength.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Holy Week and Easter

Dan Robertson, an STM parishioner, has come up with this excellent poster for the season

Friday, March 31, 2017

Holy Week and Easter at the OCSP Parish of St. Thomas More, Toronto

Baptism is Indelible

A reflection by J.D. Flynn on Catholic Baptism:
In the post-modern West, well before believers can proclaim revealed truth, they’re forced to combat the epistemological consequences of the dictatorship of relativism—to explain the possibility that truth claims can have real, objective, and unalterable meaning. It is an absurd, but nonetheless real, challenge to defend the idea that “true” and “false” exist, that “right” and “wrong” have meaning, that the contours of the natural world have significance, and order, and law.
For the past few years, we’ve been ridiculed and persecuted for proposing that gender has something to do with physical sex. The libertine guardians of the sexual revolution brook no dissent from the idea, so famously articulated in Casey vs. Planned Parenthood, that “at the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”
As transhumanism becomes more prevalent, as the sexual revolution identifies more perversions as “rights,” as technocracy overtakes ethical reasoning and truth is more frequently confused with power, believers will find themselves ever more frequently in the position of explaining that some realities are not contingent on the prevailing ethos of culture, or on our judgments, or on the fleeting whims of self-definition.
To combat the dictatorship of relativism, we have to approach the truth with humility. The philosophical project of our time, Matthew Crawford says, is to “reclaim the real,” responding to reality, rather than trying to define reality according to our preferences, or bend it according to our agenda.
In the 2016 Presidential election, both vice-presidential candidates [were] Catholic. In circles of faithful Catholics, both have been referred to as “Catholics in Name Only.” One journalist has labeled them both “Catholic-ish.” Pundits in the Catholic media say that Mike Pence is an “ex-Catholic,” and remind us that Tim Kaine can’t really be Catholic and also be pro-choice.
Fr. Cleevely administers the Sacrament of Holy  Baptism
It’s obvious that Mike Pence and Tim Kaine have strained relationships with the Catholic Church. Pence, who worships at an evangelical church and professes an evangelical’s faith, seems to have rejected the authority of the Church’s Magisterium. Kaine, who supports abortion rights and the redefinition of marriage, might believe that the Church has authority, but he has obviously chosen to defy that authority.

The communion of the Catholic Church is a communion of faith, sacraments, and governance. Both vice-presidential candidates seem, at least, to have rejected that communion.
But there really is no such thing as an “ex-Catholic.” Catholicism is not a congregationalist religion. Membership is not a self-defining proposition. Grace—the grace of baptism—makes one a Catholic. The Church teaches that “by baptism, one is incorporated into the Church of Christ and is constituted a person in it.”
Catholics believe that baptism has certain objective and unalterable consequences. That Catholic identity is not the subject of self-definition. Nor is it the consequence of proper Catholic behavior, or assent to the Church’s teachings, or even obedience to the Magisterium.
In 2009, Pope Benedict affirmed that Catholicism comes without an escape clause: Once a person is baptized or received into the Church, there is no getting out.
Of course rejecting ecclesiastical communion or the Church’s doctrine has consequences, among them the penalty of excommunication. But excommunication is a punishment, not a shunning. Disobedient or dishonest Catholics might face damnation for their choices, but they will go their deathbeds as members of our Church. One can be a Catholic and be pro-choice, but having rejected the truth and the Church’s communion, he had better be prepared to face his judgment.
The fact is that among the People of God are those who have rejected the grace God has given them. That our Church includes the reprobate, and the dogmatically impure, and that we ourselves sometimes fill out those categories. The unpleasant truth is that one can be Catholic, and still be damned.
We’re formed to believe that religious ascription, like so many other things, depends on our free choices. That changing a religion is like changing a political party: We need only sign up at the place that agrees with our view. Catholicism doesn’t hold that view. The Church teaches that in baptism, the Church confers a reality that is not dependent on our assent.
Among other things, baptism frees us for the fullness of ecclesiastical communion. Freedom doesn’t go away because we reject it. Lost through obstinance, ecclesiastical communion can be had again through repentance. In fact, this is the project of the New Evangelization—to call Catholics who have lost the faith to live out the remarkable potential of belonging to Christ’s Mystical Body.
This matters. It matters because we blaspheme when we presume to undo the consequences of baptism by differentiating between “so-called Catholics” and the genuine article. We also capitulate to the dictatorship of relativism when we substitute the sociological idea of “religious identity” for the objective reality of religious fact.
We can’t credibly oppose self-defined genders or marriages while redefining the meaning of our Church’s own sacraments. We teach that some facts cannot be altered by judgment or force of will. Men are men. Women are women. Catholics—no matter how odious or recalcitrant—are Catholics. Our task is to call them to be saints.
This article by JD Flynn appears on the FIRST THINGS website. Flynn writes from Lincoln, Nebraska.

St. Helena - a Brit?

George Weigh has an interesting take on St. Helena as protrayed by Evelyn Waugh:
Helena, was something of a literary experiment for a modern master of English literature. The eponymous heroine, mother of the Emperor Constantine, talks in her youth like a flapper from the Roaring Twenties; the storytelling is spare, lacking the lush prose of Brideshead Revisited; Waugh’s preference for “the picturesque [over] the plausible” in historically questionable matters is enough to offend a squadron of academics. At bottom, though, the novel, the only one of his books Waugh ever read aloud to his children, is an act of faith in the reality of revelation.
Which makes it an especially appropriate read during Lent-2017.
Helena, whom Waugh first portrays as the horseback-riding, tomboy daughter of the British King Coel (that “merry old soul”), marries a rising young Roman legionary, Constantius, and with him has a son, Constantine. For political reasons, Constantius trades in Helena for a trophy wife, and while he climbs the greasy pole of Roman military politics, she retires to the rural quiet of the empire’s periphery and eventually becomes a Christian. Reunited with her son after he establishes himself as Number One in Rome and begins to lay plans for a new capital, Constantinople, Helena discovers that post-persecution Christianity in Rome is embroiled in theological controversy, with various forms of Gnosticism threatening to reduce the faith to an arcane “knowledge” (the Greek “gnosis”) accessible only to the elite.
So the elderly Helena, a practical British girl and something of a populist despite her status as Dowager Empress, decides to put paid to that nonsense by going to Jerusalem on pilgrimage and recovering the instruments of the passion: the physical evidence that Christianity, rather than being an esoteric myth, is founded on real events that happened to real people at a real time in a real place—events that so changed those people and those they taught that the Christian movement converted a considerable part of the Mediterranean world before Constantine (always on the lookout for the main chance) joined the winning side. Helena’s quest, which has its climax during Lent, is rewarded by the discovery of the True Cross.
Helena is full of Waugh’s humor—including a hilarious putdown of Edward Gibbon and the anti-Christian motif in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire—which makes for easy and amusing reading. The author’s intent, however, was entirely serious. He knew that Gnosticism was a protean heresy that re-occurred across the centuries. And as a convert (like his heroine), Evelyn Waugh chose the best tools at his disposal, his well-honed abilities as a wordsmith, to take a stand against the modernist tendency to reduce revelation to myth—and to make ourselves the judges of revelation, rather than being judged by it.
Shortly before Lent-2017, the newly-elected General of the Society of Jesus, Father Arturo Sosa, SJ, gave an interview in which he was asked about Cardinal Gerhard Mueller’s recent statement that “no power,” including popes, councils, and bishops, could change the words of Jesus on marriage and divorce. Father Sosa brushed that off by saying that “no one had a [tape] recorder,” so that it’s up to us to put Christ’s words in the appropriate context, presumably drawn from contemporary experience. Father Sosa insisted that this was not “relativism”; be that as it may, it certainly is Gnosticism, of a distinctly modern form.
In its Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, the fathers of Vatican II wrote that Scripture, and the continuous Tradition which lives from it, “are like a mirror, in which the Church, during its pilgrim journey here on earth, contemplates God, from whom she receives everything.” A few paragraphs later, the Council fathers affirm that the authors of Scripture “consigned to writing whatever [God] wanted written, and no more.” So, no, no one had a tape recorder; the gospel writers had something better—the assistance of the Holy Spirit in preparing texts that included “whatever [God] wanted written, and no more.”
It has been clear for over two years that the marriage/divorce/holy communion controversy pits those who, with Vatican II, affirm the reality of revelation against those who insist that experience and history judge revelation. We can be grateful to Father Sosa for underscoring this point in an unmistakable way.
George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington, D.C.’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.

Thursday, March 30, 2017


Sunday, May 21, 1:30 p.m.

Parish of St Thomas More 

(Ordinariate CSP), 

263 Roncesvalles, Toronto

Following the 12:30 noon DW Sung Mass, noted author and historian, Dr. Ian Gentles, will address contemporary life issues in Canada. 

A reception will follow. All are welcome.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Who can join the Ordinariate anyway?

As Our Lady of the Atonement, San Antonio and, potentially, other parishes move into the Ordinariate around the world, it is important to remember that there is a broad net for those who seek to be in the full communion of the Catholic Church.
Fr. Christopher Phillips, Pastor Emeritus, celebrates High Mass at Our Lady of the Atonement Parish (Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter) San Antonio TX.

Here is a helpful summary by Shane Schaetzel:

One of the questions that pops up when this topic is broached is that of who can and cannot join the Ordinariate.  I have heard, through reliable sources, that a message may be distributed within the parish with the suggestion that the parishioners of Our Lady of the Atonement should not wish to join the Ordinariate because some members of the parish might not be able to join. The implication, obviously, is that those members would have to leave the parish and/or the school. IF you hear this, please know that this is categorically NOT true.

First of all, it is important to note that, when other parishes from the Pastoral Provision moved to the Ordinariate, all parishioners who desired to come along were grandfathered in, regardless of whether or not they were former Anglicans or “cradle” Catholics.  Even if that were not the case this time, it would still not prevent anyone at all from being a parishioner of Our Lady of the Atonement.

As is stands, in the unlikely event that all parishioners are not “grandfathered” in the way they have when all other parishes of the Pastoral Provision made the switch, most parishioners in Our Lady of the Atonement could already join the ordinariate formally. Those who could not, are still FULLY able to register as parishioners, have their kids in the school, receive the sacraments, etc. No one who wishes to be a part of the life of the parish would be excluded in any way. All current parishioners, and all Roman Catholics who wanted to join in the future, would still be full members of the parish. The following is straight from the Ordinariate website:

What if I am not eligible for membership?

If you are a Roman Catholic who cannot affirm one or more of the above questions in the previous section, you are still strongly encouraged to register as a parishioner in an Ordinariate parish and participate fully in the life of your local Ordinariate parish. Parish membership in one of our communities does NOT require one to be a registered member of the Ordinariate.
Our Lady of the Atonement Parish (Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter) San Antonio TX.

Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'CatholicInTheOzarks.com -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'