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Thursday, December 17, 2009

"And Mary Bore Sweet Jesus Christ"

I grew up in a family with a long tradition of making a living from the northeast Florida pine forests and my father still had access to the land his family had owned for generations. So it was perfectly natural, when it was time to put up a Christmas tree, to go out to the forest to an area my father had previously scouted as a likely spot to find a good one. We always had a freshly cut red cedar, and because they grew naturally, they had all the quirks and faults of real trees. They had bare spots, were never quite symmetrical, and sometimes sported an old bird's nest tucked back into the branches. I have to admit I always wished we could get a beautifully shaped if not quite fresh blue spruce shipped from somewhere up north.

One year, while riding down one of the forest roads looking for a red cedar, we drove through an area that had recently been clear-cut. All the mature pines had been hauled off to the paper mill and only the scraggly pines, black-jack oaks and palmettos were left. And standing off by itself was a holly tree. My father had a particular reverence for hollies. Perhaps it was a feeling that went all the way back to ancient British respect for holly, mistletoe and ivy. We were never allowed to cut down a holly tree. But this particular holly tree had the bad luck to be growing in an area that would soon be bulldozed prior to replanting new pines.

The holly tree had a beautiful shape and dark green color. But holly leaves, even though they are evergreen, do not lend themselves to being decorated. They have defensive spines around the outside, just like a cactus. Would it make a Christmas tree? We kids were consulted. Would our mother like it? Because it would be bulldozed anyway, could the rule against cutting down hollies be relaxed just this one time?

We never did get a blue spruce. But that one year, we did have a unique holly Christmas tree. If I remember right, it never did get decorated to the extent that we decorated our regular cedars. We probably got pricked enough times that we quit the decorating and just let the tree itself shine through with its own beauty. That was one of the best Christmas trees we ever had.

Sometimes things mean more than we realize at the time. It was only later that I heard this old Christmas Carol that finds parallels between the holly tree and Mary the Mother of Christ:

The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir

The holly bears a blossom
As white as lily flower
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To be our sweet Saviour
Refrain

The holly bears a berry
As red as any blood
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To do poor sinners good
Refrain

The holly bears a prickle
As sharp as any thorn;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas Day in the morn.
Refrain

The holly bears a bark
As bitter as any gall;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to redeem us all.
Refrain

The holly and the ivy
Now both are full well grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.
Refrain

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pipe Organ Installation at St. Therese

The plans for the installation of our new-to-us pipe organ will be on display at St. Therese for the first time on Sunday. For a slide show of disassembling the Avila University organ click on this link which also includes slides of the renovations of the Avila Chapel from which the organ came. http://www.avila.edu/give/chapelphotos.asp The new organ will be linked with our existing Kilgen pipe organ and additional sections will be added as we are able to retrieve parts of abandoned organs from other Kansas City area churches. All work is being done by volunteers under the leadership of services contributed by Mid States Pipe Organ. Work will continue as funds become available.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Core Values

The National Catholic Reporter did a very short article about St. Therese because we are the one parish in the country that uses the Ordinary Form of the Mass as well as the Anglican Use. Even though our former Anglicans have been here a year and a half, they are relative newcomers in a parish that has a well-established identity. That means St. Therese is a microcosm of the rest of the Catholic Church as we deal with two cultures that have so much in common and also some differences that are very important to each. It would be naïve of me to pretend that these differences are not the source of actual and potential conflict. It is much easier to believe theoretically that diversity is a strength than it is to celebrate it when someone else's spiritual and liturgical expression causes discomfort or symbolizes what one is afraid of. Some Anglo-Catholic liturgical practices that defined the "Catholic" wing of the Episcopal Church not only seem like dinosaurs to some Catholics but remind them of the pre-Vatican II days they were glad to leave behind. And some contemporary Catholic practices remind former Episcopalians and Anglicans of what they were trying to get away from. I truly doubt that some of those deep-seated preferences and convictions will change. Last week I was reading about the experience of some Anglican priests who converted to Catholicism and then returned to the Anglican Church. Something like 250 priests converted in England, and about 10% went back. Apparently they missed a feeling that they belonged, that they were personally known and welcome. They found their Catholic parish to be cold and impersonal. It struck me that in spite of differences, St. Therese's core values are very Anglican. There is nothing cold and impersonal about St. Therese. "Father says" is not a good enough reason to get something done here - people expect to be included and respected. If this experiment can succeed anywhere, it can succeed at St. Therese. It really doesn't matter whether the person bagging the groceries for the food pantry goes to 9:15 or 11:15, and everybody loves to eat. Newcomers and old-timers, 9:15 and 11:15 folks all met together to begin work on converting our school into a community center. There was a nice review of our 11:15 Mass at Church of the Week. He says he will be visiting our 9:15 Mass soon. You might want to visit it at http://church-of-the-week.blogspot.com/

Friday, November 20, 2009

Ordinariates and Ecumenism

This is unattributed, but it makes a good point. How can it be that the Episcopal Church, which has done so much to take concrete steps toward disunity (communion for the non-baptized and non-Christian, "marriage" of same-sex partners, ordinations of those who have not intention to be chaste in singleness or in marriage, ordinations of women as bishops and priests) can be offended when the Pope makes a concrete interim step toward unity? Go figure.

"Bishop Christopher Epting, the Episcopal Church's deputy to the Presiding Bishop for ecumenical and interreligious relations, took Pope Benedict XVI to task, claiming that Anglicanorum Coetibus is “not necessarily very ecumenical" (which translated means “unecumenical,”) a “distraction,” and a violation of the real goal of genuine ecumenical dialogue which happens to be “ecumenical conversation.” http://www.episcopal-life.org/79901_116893_ENG_HTM.htm

If I understand him correctly, Bishop Epting has single handedly established an entirely new goal for the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission. Formerly, the agreed goal was church unity. For example, Salvation and the Church states “The purpose of our dialogue is the restoration of full ecclesial communion between us. Our work has recalled for us still wider perspectives not only the unity of all Christian people but the fulfilment of all things in Christ.”
 (SECOND ANGLICAN/ROMAN CATHOLIC INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION, Llandaff, 3 September 1986
, Feast of St Gregory the Great.) Now, with the click of the keyboard, the goal of genuine ecumenical dialogue has become “ecumenical conversation.” Now that we are clear on that point, the achievements of the ecumenical dialogue can become more easily measured. We came, we talked, we adjourned.

Perhaps, in readjusting the goal of ecumenical conversation, Bishop Epting has also erased the necessity for taking concrete steps toward that goal. Formerly, Anglicanorum Coetibus could easily have been recognized as an interim step toward unity. “The Malta Report of 1968 envisaged the coming together of the Roman Catholic church and the churches of the Anglican Communion in terms of "unity by stages". (The Authority of the Church I, 1976) If “full ecclesial communion” is no longer the goal, having been replaced by “ecumenical conversation,” then concrete interim steps can replaced by having little chats and keepings minutes no one will read.

It is quite bracing to hear such a clear rebuke to violations of true dialogue. After all, why shouldn’t the ecumenical officer of the Episcopal Church, which has rushed ahead with one-sided innovations time after time, without consultation with dialogue partners and in violation of previous agreements, get his nose out of joint when the Catholic Church takes a concrete step toward the agreed upon goal? Oops, I forgot, Bishop Epting has changed the goal. With such a clear rebuke, the Catholic Church is certain to repent."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tabnernacle

We’ve had our first discussion about the relocation of the tabernacle. One of my predecessors did a fine job of modifying the sanctuary for the new Missal of Paul VI. The altar is noble and the ambo is quite fitting for the proclamation of the Word. Two modifications have not stood the test of time. First, the new presider’s and assistants’ chairs were intended to be at the level of the old altar. That position was abandoned some time ago. Second, the tabernacle was relocated off center and at an angle beside the pillar to the sanctuary arch, a position I have observed would be more appropriate for a potted plant or a religious statue. Its position is neither noble, dignified, beautiful or prominent; nor is it on a side altar, on the old main altar, or in a chapel.

Some might think I am foolish for opening a discussion about this issue and would argue that I should simply get a ruling from the bishop to relocate the tabernacle to the “right” place. So, I am a fool, and on our first adventure into a discussion of the issue, I have learned a lot.

I learned that moving the tabernacle back to its central location in the sanctuary would symbolize a return to pre-Vatican II non-participatory Masses. For them, the new Mass is awe inspiring, and the movement of the tabernacle out of the center of the sanctuary was a key that opened the possibility of that new experience.

I learned that having the tabernacle close to the people made Christ very close and accessible at a very difficult time, and that moving the tabernacle behind the altar would put a barrier between them.

I learned that having the tabernacle off on the side makes it seem like Christ is not the center of our parish life, and that when some genuflect and some walk right by without acknowledging Christ’s presence it appears disrespectful. I learned that it is disconcerting to visit a church where the tabernacle is not readily visible, making one wonder, “What have they done with Christ?”

I learned that having the tabernacle close to the door by which people come and go makes it easy to ignore him when our minds are focused on something else.

I learned that even raising the issue makes some feel like it is a devious plot to foist an ad orientem celebration over on the parish. And I learned that what seems obvious and in keeping with our faith and the integrity of the building, means something else entirely to some others.

And above all, I learned that we can have a difficult but respectful conversation when we truly try to listen and understand. We’ve made a start and the conversation will take a while. I’ll keep you posted.

Cardinal Kasper on Anglicanorum Coetibus

http://www.ncregister.com/daily/cardinal_kasper_on_ianglicanorum_coetibus_i/

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

St. Therese and the Requiem Mass for Father de Feydeau

Preached this morning at his requiem by the Prior, Father Anderson - who on Saturday buried his own mother.


+ Requiem Mass
The Reverend Father Dom Francois de Feydeau de Saint-Christophe November 17, 2009

For unto thy faithful, O Lord, life is changed, not taken away: and the abode of this earthly sojourn being dissolved, an eternal dwelling is prepared in heaven (Preface of the Dead)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ;
My very dear Brother Monks,

The words just quoted from the Preface for the Requiem Mass express the Faith of the Church that shines in the face of the darkest trial that assails the human heart—that is to say the sad reality of death.
Rooted in the Most Precious Blood and water that poured forth from the side of the Savior on Calvary, the Faith comes to our aid in this moment of sorrow, reminding us of Christ’s eternal victory over sin, the world and the “enemy death that shall be destroyed last, until he hath put all his enemies under his feet”. (I Cor. 15:26)

Sharing in this same Faith and making it “earn interest” like the good servant of the parable, that great Theologian of the Little Way, Saint Therese of the Child Jesus of Lisieux gives us her particular insight into the reality of bodily death. As she neared her own end at the age of twenty-four this young Doctor of the Church made the boldest of
affirmations: “I die not; I enter into life.” When a man or a woman--in particular a religious--comes to that crucial moment of the great passage to the other side of things, the truth comes forth without pretention. Saint Therese affirms her belief in eternal life, not in order simply to comfort us, but rather because it is the truth.

Of course, the Saint of Lisieux did not mean to dismiss the possibility of Hell or Purgatory, but having made her great discovery concerning the Merciful Love of God, to which she consecrated herself as a victim of Divine Mercy, she simply was beyond doubting that the Judge of Heaven and Earth would forgive her every fault if she only remained small--very small--with the trust of a little child. And lest we be tempted to think that it was on her merits as a Carmelite nun that she felt so bold in presenting herself to the just Judge, she affirms categorically that she will appear before Him with “empty hands”, that is to say without the merits any good works to speak of--save her childlike confidence itself.

Saint Therese liked to quote the line from that other great doctor of Carmel, Saint John of the Cross, who said that “on the evening of this life it is on love that we will be judged”. Although she felt quite incapable of performing the feats of asceticism that we so admire in the great Saints, she knew for a fact that there was immense love in her heart—better yet, she knew that her vocation was to be the love in the heart of her mother the Church.

As we prepare to commit the mortal remains of a beloved monk to the earth, to that very earth from which the first man was taken, we do well not to forget the luminous path traced by so many saints—from Our Blessed Father Saint Benedict to Saint Therese of Lisieux--that have illumined the world and transfigured the experience of death. Above all we must not forget what Our Lord said about the need for the grain of wheat to die, in order that it not remain sterile but produce much fruit. If we cannot help feeling the bitter grief of seeing a father and brother stolen away from the visible plane of our existence, we must not act like the pagans of yesterday and today, who live without real love in this world and without hope for the next.

May Our Lady of a Happy Dying, Notre-Dame du Bien Mourir, so venerated at Fontgombault Abbey, our mother-house in France, who manifestly helped our brother through the narrow passage of his last days, obtain for us all to die so well. Thus having followed the path of our monastic spirituality, in imitation of the Ecce, Fiat of the Virgin of Nazareth, may we all come to take our places in the eternal liturgical celebrations of Heaven in the presence of God and of the Lamb. Amen.

History of Anglican-Catholic Reunion

Click here for a short history of 400 years of proposals for Anglican-Catholic reunion.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hiking the AT

Wes, “Charlie” and I had a great hike on the Appalachian Trail. We met up at Amicalola Falls State Park, left one car there, and drove to our starting place at Neel’s Gap. We paid a quick visit to the Walasi Yi hiking store and admired their display of all the inadequate and worn out equipment left there by hikers who took the chance to upgrade after finishing their first 40 miles.

Our first stop was Blood Mountain. We had planned to go on to the next shelter because that would have divided our mileage into better portions, but I am glad we decided to quit early. The Blood Mountain shelter is an old CCC shelter and inadequate by today’s standards, but it sits near the crest with beautiful views in all directions. We sat up on top of the rock and watched the sun set and an almost full moon rise. If we had gone on as I had planned we would have missed one of the most beautiful sights in all my hiking.

After the ascent of Blood Mountain Wes decided the hike was going to be more than he could handle. Being a wise Scout leader, he chose safety first, and went back to the car while Charlie and I continued.

Charlie is my son’s dog who loves the opportunity to get out on the trail. He got lot’s of attention on the trail, carrying his own food in his saddle-bag-like pack. He provided me lots of entertainment and company. He’s trot up the trail ahead of me, then come running back to check on me.

I keep learning more every time I go. On the second evening I couldn't find the Good Gap Shelter. The trail guide gave very clear instructions: cross the road and take the blue blazed trail to the shelter, but I couldn't find the blue blazed trail. The guide said the side trail would come back to the main trail in about 1/3 mile so I took the main trail but after more than a mile there wasn't any sign of it. I found a good tent site - the wood was all piled up and ready for a fire, so Charlie and I used the tent that night. The next morning, after about another 1/4 mile, I passed the shelter. It was a new shelter in a new location since my trail guide was published. So on my next hikes I'm going to need to check and see if the trail has changed.

The second full day we covered fewer miles, but there weren't many water sources that afternoon. Charlie was thirsty so I have him half the water and ran out of water for myself. Because I didn't have any water I couldn't eat my candy bar, so by the time I got to the shelter I was really dragging. So I learned that I should make Charlie carry some water for himself. We were joined by three other groups of hikers. Two of the groups stayed in their tents, so the shelter wasn’t crowded. I had a nice talk around the campfire with a firefighter from Crescent Beach who knew a lot of Florida history.

The third full day of hiking we walked through hardwoods and then descended along Long Creek with beautiful waterfalls. The creek ran through some apparently virgin hemlocks, so moving they brought tears of gratitude. We got to the top of Mount Springer and to our last camping spot early in the afternoon. It was moving to think of so many hikers starting there to try to make it all the way to Maine, and the southbound hikers finishing their 2200 mile hikes there. We got there earlier than we had expected so we pushed on to Amicalola and the car. That meant hiking a little over sixteen miles that day – a bit longer than I like to do, but it was a nice afternoon and we were making good time.

Charlie didn't like having to be on a leash as we walked though the state park, and he really didn't like walking down the steps. The path down to the car went down the steps that go right in front of the waterfall. It was a beautiful sight. But the steps had open metal treads and Charlie had to look down at the ground or at the water through them and it spooked him. But he made it. We got back to the car about 4:45, just before the ranger station closed. Then we drove until about 10:00, got a motel and arrived home a day early.

I find the rhythm of hiking to be very conducive to prayer and reflection. It makes me wish I had more of the psalms memorized. Praying the Jesus Prayer helps me get through the difficult climbs. For some reason I keep losing my place in the Rosary, but the Angelus is perfect. Mary gave me a gift while hiking. Perhaps because I came from a Protestant background my relationship with her has been somewhat dutiful, but not affectionate. On this hike, for the first time, I felt her maternal love. It wasn't profound, but I am very grateful.

Charlie is already asking when we are going on our next hike. He really loves the chance to run without having to be on a leash.

The Real Shower of Roses

http://catholicrelics.wordpress.com/2009/10/11/homily-on-the-occasion-of-the-visit-of-the-relics-of-saint-theres-of-lisieux/

Thursday, November 12, 2009

St. Therese and Archbishop of Canterbury

Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams referred to St. Therese of Lisieux while preaching at the All Saints Day Mass at All Saints Margaret Street. (All Saints is an Anglo-Catholic bastion in the Church of England.

"When we celebrate the Saints, we celebrate those who have given evidence, who have made God believable by how they have lived and how they have died. The saints are the people who recognise that arguments will finally not win the day. God does not make himself credible by argument. God does not respond to our doubts, our intellectual querying, our uncertainty, by delivering from Heaven a neatly annotated list of logical propositions with which we cannot disagree. (I'm afraid that Professor Dawkins can bang on the doors of Heaven as long as he likes if that is what he expects to happen.) God deals with us by our life and a death, by Jesus. And God continues to deal with us by lives and deaths that make him credible, that make Jesus tangible here and now. All those people who flocked into Westminster Cathedral a couple of weeks' ago to pay their respects to St Therese of Lisieux were recognizing that in her Christ became tangible for her generation and for ours and that is what the Saints do."



Benedict XVI and Anglican Converts: Newman’s Perspective - Catholic Online

Benedict XVI and Anglican Converts: Newman’s Perspective - Catholic Online

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bridging the Tiber

I am trying to imagine how those Anglicans who have asked for unity must be feeling right now. If I can remember correctly, as an Episcopalian, I imagined unity with Rome as a kind of covering Rome would throw over the Anglican Communion, offering legitimacy, blessing, collegiality, and support for the Anglo-Catholic interpretation of Anglicanism, without being intrusive. I may have imagined a kind of unity that we could take off the shelf and use to our advantage when it suited us, and put back on the shelf when we were finished with it. It would certainly have suited us to have Catholic recognition of Anglican orders, Catholic endorsement of Anglican sacraments, Catholic representation at Anglican altars at special functions, Catholic bishops' hands participating at Anglican ordinations, and Catholic boosts to the Anglican ethos of having a special place and role to play as the bridge church. We would have been pleased to have Catholics at Anglican communion rails, and Catholic contributors in our pews. In other words, I imagined that we could be Anglican first, and Catholic when it suited us.

Based on what I have been reading and hearing, at least some Anglicans who asked for union with Rome hoped unity with Rome might be something like what I described. Now, faced with the offer of an Anglican Ordinariate in the Catholic Church, Anglicans are faced with an invitation to be Catholic, and the reaction of some seems to be, "But I don't want to be Catholic! I don't want to convert!"

I hope my fellow Catholics will not be dismissive of such reactions. I think it is absolutely necessary for Anglicans to wrestle with real issues and express the emotions related to them. Newman's entry into the Catholic Church did not happen in one day. Nor did he just think himself through the process, although thinking was absolutely necessary. Newman helps us realize that we reason not only mentally, but physically, emotionally and socially as well. If we try to shut down the process and demand instant gratitude for a gracious offer, then we demean those for whom this is almost a life and death issue involving one's core identity.

To be helpful to our Anglican sisters and brothers, Catholics should recognize, that Anglicans are faced with huge sacrifices. To take up Rome's offer, Anglicans are asked to trust the unfamiliar, to put more of a premium on hope than on their past, to be able to state with conviction they believe all the Catholic Church teaches, and to define themselves more as a people who are for something than against something. To become Catholic they will have to give up participating in the sacraments until they are prepared to make professions of faith as Catholics, and for Anglicans in irregular marriages, to forego the sacraments and enter the Catholic annulment process for a ruling on the status of their marriages. Anglican clergy, especially the TAC clergy who may not have seminary educations, are being asked to give up their ministries for what may be an extended period. Because only Catholic priests can be incardinated into the Ordinariate, former Anglican clergy will have to wait until the Ordinariate can establish the educational processes so they can meet Catholic standards and be ordained Catholic priests. If they are married, petitions still have to go to Rome and the Ordinariate will have to demonstrate that there is a need for their ministry. Some Anglicans may know right now, intuitively, that they ready to cross the bridge. But I imagine that for most, especially here in the U.S., it will take some time.

Some, perhaps many, Anglicans who hoped and prayed for an invitation, will decide not to accept it. Even making that decision will require a huge shift in identity. After hoping, praying, and working for unity with Rome as the solution to Anglicanism's problems, those who decide not to accept unity on Rome's terms will have to go through a huge process of reorientation toward a new and different future.

The gap between Rome's "Here is what you requested" and Anglicanism's "Is this what I was asking for?" is huge. The gap is between Rome's offer of an Anglican expression of Catholicism and Anglicanism's hope for a Catholic blessing of Anglicanism. Bridging that gap will involve a very real struggle and it is entirely dependent on the Holy Spirit working with people of good will and wisdom from both sides of the gap. As Anglicanorum Coetibus states, the Holy Spirit moved groups of Anglicans to petition for unity. The Holy Spirit is the principle of unity, establishing the Church as a communion. The Holy Spirit has brought us this far, and he will certainly carry us further.

Come Holy Spirit. Kindle in us the fire of your love.

Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created.

And you shall renew the face of the earth.

O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the faithful. Grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may have a right judgment in all things, and ever rejoice in his holy consolations. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, October 30, 2009

St. Wilfrid, St. Hilda, St. Bede: Pray for us.

Has anyone noticed the link between, St. Wilfrid who founded the See of Chichester, and the current Anglican Bishop of Chichester? Bishop Hind apparently made trips to Rome to appeal for a way for groups of Anglican to come into the Catholic Church and retain some of their Anglican patrimony. Now he is taking a leadership role in bringing Anglo-Catholics into the Catholic Church.

In his day, Wilfrid, a Celt himself with roots in the monastery at Lindisfarne, made several visits to Rome to study and to ask for Rome’s adjudication of English disputes. He began as a Celtic Christian and ended as a Catholic Celtic Christian. This is what St. Wilfrid said at the famous Synod of Whitby over which St. Hilda presided. His argument carried the day and brought all of England into harmony with the Catholic Church, especially in way the date of Easter is calculated.

“For although your Fathers were holy men, do you imagine that they, a few men in a corner of a remote island, are to be preferred before the universal Church of Christ throughout the world? And even if your Columba – or, may I say, ours also, if he was the servant of Christ – was a Saint potent in miracles, can he take precedence before the most blessed Prince of the Apostles, to whom our Lord said, “Thou art Peter ….” (Ecclesiastical History of the English Church and People, Chapter 26.)

I have to say that I am devoted to the Celtic saints for their gentleness, their love of the poor and their closeness to nature. St. Adian, St. Hilda, and St. Chad were admirable. St. Bede, although he always reminded his readers that the Celts were in some ways deficient, honored them for their holiness of life.

Are St. Wilfrid, St. Hilda, St. Chad and St. Bede also adding their prayers for the Anglican Ordinariate?

Anglican Ordinariate

A reporter from NCR asked me, “Have you heard from any Episcopalians who may be thinking about converting?” Truthfully, I have not heard from a single one. After some reflection, I think it would be wrong to expect to. The question assumes that the Pope is “fishing in the Anglican pond,” “poaching,” “attempting to build up the Catholic Church’s traditionalist ranks,” “making a hostile take-over,” or “stationing his tanks on the lawn of Lambeth Palace.” If those accusations were correct, then the measure of success would be the number of Anglican fish on his string, the value of new acquisitions for the Catholic Conglomerate, or the number of Anglican prisoners of war he has captured that he can convert into Vatican troops. It is a bit silly.

The Pope’s establishment of new Anglican Ordinariates is a response to requests from Anglican bishops who affirmed the Catholic faith and requested a way of corporate reunion that could honor the Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony. Just as the Pastoral Provision was Pope John Paul II’s response to requests by two organized groups of Episcopalians, Pope Benedict’s Anglican Ordinariate is a response to Anglican bishops in England and the worldwide Traditional Anglican Communion. The Pastoral Provision was a lower level response to lower level requests, and the Anglican Ordinariate is a higher level response to higher level requests.

The measure of success will not be how many Episcopalians choose to become Catholic, but how many of those who requested a method for corporate reunion decide to take the offer Pope Benedict has made. Anglican bishops in England and the TAC bishops made requests, but I have not heard of any Episcopalians who did. Some recent Episcopal bishops converted under the Pastoral Provision. But they came as individuals, not as representatives of groups or dioceses asking for corporate reunion. Will there be some Episcopalians who decide that this is the time? Certainly. But just as certainly their decision to act now will be the result of a long process of very personal prayer and struggle, not because the Pope has made any move to catch, capture or acquire them. In other words, there will continue to be a steady stream of Episcopalians, but I would not expect a big change. And whatever number it might be will not represent a victory of one church over another. If there are any victories, they will be victories of hope over fear, and conscience over inertia.

Locally, my concern is how St. Therese Parish can be of service to the clergy and members of TAC parishes whose bishops unanimously made the request which led to the offer of the Anglican Ordinariate. It is one thing to think about, hope for, and pray for corporate reunion. It is quite another to make the sacrifices and choices that would be required for it to really happen. We cannot know the future and we cannot expect people to commit themselves to something that does not exist, yet. But we can get to know each other. And if there are some others who decide this is the time to explore whether this is the avenue for them, I would welcome them, too.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hiking Amicalola to Neels Gap.

Sunday after Mass I am headed off to the mountains of north Georgia to hike a section of the Appalachian Trail. I'll take my son's dog Charlie and met Wes at Amicalola. Wes was my best friend from kindergarten until high school graduation. He was always ready for an adventure, which usually meant camping somewhere in the woods that surrounded my house. Chores had to be finished first, of course. In junior high we found an island in the middle of the marsh, accessible by boat at high tide. It was not exactly a Tom Sawyer existence, but it came close. After college our lives separated. Wes stayed in Fernandina, married at about 18, and helped his father run a construction firm. He continues going on adventures, usually with Fernandina's Troop 89. I'm already wearing my boots. They look funny with my black clericals. My pack is ready. Now, if I could just find my pocketknife.

Monday, October 26, 2009

"Anglican Ordinariate"

In yesterday’s homily I mused that we may be like Bartimeas in the moment after Jesus told him, “Go you way. Your faith has made you well.” We can hardly see past the end of our noses and find the path to follow, much less how this will all turn out at the end of the journey.

I imagine that now there will be much soul searching among TAC Anglicans, some Church of England Anglicans and a few Episcopalians. It is one thing for bishops to say they are moving to Rome. It is quite another for the priests and laity. For those who imagine there will be large numbers, I would caution that the same thing was said after the publication of Apostolicae Curae. For all the interest Episcopalians used to have about unity with Rome, it was mostly about having Rome recognize the validity of Anglican orders and some kind of mutual recognition, perhaps a post-reformation peace treaty. Episcopalians would have been thrilled to have “open borders” with Roman Catholics. We would have been thrilled to have Anglican bishops invited to church councils, as long as they could still go home and be independent of the Vatican. But hardly anyone talked about what it would be like to answer the question all converts are asked – “Do you believe all that the Catholic Church teaches….” Hardly anyone considered what it would be like for Anglican priests to be vetted to determine whether they could be ordained Catholic priests. Hardly anyone talked about the kinds of parish closings and consolidations that could be required as tiny Episcopal and Anglican churches move into the Catholic Church.

Of course the new Anglican Ordinariate was the topic of conversation after Mass yesterday. We do not have the text, and more importantly we do not know how it will be interpreted and implemented. We had a good time speculating, but speculations are not a good foundation for taking action.

But that doesn’t mean there is nothing that can be done. We can be hospitable and at least get to know our TAC neighbors and any others who may be considering Pope Benedict’s invitation. We can share that most Anglican glass of sherry, read Evening Prayer and have a meal together. Those of us who have made the journey can share what it has been like for us to try to pick out the path as we try to make our path the same as the one Jesus is walking, even if we can’t see past the end of our noses.

Jesus told Bartimeas, “Go your way.” He is the one who had to decide that going his way meant following Jesus to Jerusalem. Our TAC neighbors are going to have to decide what those same words mean to them.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

St. Therese at work

I received the following note today from another convinced that St. Therese is "spending her heaven doing good on earth."

Dear Father Davis,


Your story about the Anglican Ordinariate and St Therese (which came to me via England this morning) is very interesting. And I can tell you another connexion with her.


I am the Anglican Catholic Bishop of Canada in the TAC. I was present at the Synod of TAC Bishops in Portsmouth England in October 2007 which voted unanimously to ask for full communion, and signed the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The first full day of the Synod was October 1st, the 'new' date of St Therese's feast, and the actual vote to ask for full communion was taken on October 3rd 'old' date of her feast.


I also accompanied the Primate and Bishop Robert Mercer CR to deliver the Letter to the CDF where we had been directed by the Holy Father. My friend Mother Teresa of the Carmel in Edmonton had given me some holy cards with a piece of cloth touched to her relics. Each of us carried one of these cards, and we asked St Therese's prayers on our venture. We also had similar cards from Poland of the Servant of God John Paul II.


I have continued 'to bother her' about a favourable response to our request, and now thanks to the generosity and love of the Holy Father who has taken a personal interest in us for many years, and the prayers of St Therese, something wonderful has come about.


God bless you,


+Peter Wilkinson, OSG


Bishop Ordinary

Anglican Catholic Church of Canada

TAC


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Anglican Ordinariate

I have not posted anything since July because I have been working on a small book, but todays news demands some response.

People have asked me to help help them understand the new Apostolic Constitution and how it differs from the Pastoral Provision under which I was ordained a Catholic priest. Please remember that this is very new and the text has not been released yet.

First, the Pastoral Provision is local and provisional. The Pastoral Provision is in effect in the United States and provides a process by which former Episcopal or Anglican priests may be considered for ordination in the Catholic Church, temporarily suspends the discipline of celibacy during the lifetime of the priest's wife, and allows for groups of former Episcopalians to retain some of their liturgical traditions using an approved modification of the Book of Common Prayer called the Book of Divine Worship. The Pastoral Provision is also in force in Great Britain, but British bishops have not approved an Anglican based liturgy. The Pastoral Provision does not apply in the rest of the world, although individual priests may convert and be considered for ordination on a case by case basis. Second, the Pastoral Provision has a limited but indefinite time-frame. Its purpose was to allow Anglicans to be absorbed into the Catholic Church. An Apostolic Constitution is issued at a much higher level of authority and is not intended to be time-limited. So it is quite possible that the Pope envisions that an Anglican community will exist within Catholicism for quite some time and even provides the possibility of separate Anglican tracks within Catholic seminaries to provide for future continuity.

The new Apostolic Constitution can apply anywhere in the world, and it provides the possibility of much more autonomy for former Anglicans. They will not have the same level of authority as the sister Eastern Rite Catholics, but there will be some similarities. It is a very, very generous gift, made in response to petitions from as many as fifty different Anglican bishops around the world. It was said that the Episcopal Diocese of Forth Worth was discussing such a move. They have since separated themselves from the Episcopal Church, but have not said definitively that they want to become Catholic. Several small Anglican parishes in Kansas City may be members of the Traditional Anglican Communion that made a petition to become Catholic. The TAC is a worldwide body.

For the easily bored and sound-bite fed U.S. audience, most news outlets will reduce this to conflicts about women and gays and then move on to the next controversy. The truth is much richer. Anglicans have been converting to the Catholic Church since the reformation. Since the 1840s, some Anglicans have been working and praying for reunion. In the late 19th century an Anglican religious order, the Francisan Friars of the Atonement (Grayfriars) joined the Catholic Church to work for reunion from within Catholicism and since then have provided the leadership for the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Since Vatican II, Anglicans and Catholics have been in high level discussions aimed at creating the kinds of mutual understandings that would someday lead to reunion. Vatican II paved the way for Catholics to make the kinds of concessions Pope Benedict made that will allow Anglicans to retain some of their liturgy and spirituality, recognizing that Catholicism is enriched and not diminished by this kind of diversity. John Henry Cardinal Newman, the famous 19th century Anglican convert to Catholicism paved the way for Vatican II, and will be beatified in 2011 when the Pope visits England. Anglicans and Catholics flocked to visit the relics of Saint Therese of Lisieux as they made a very recent pilgrimage to England. Her relics rested on her feast day at York Minister, the Cathedral of the Anglican Archbishop of York. In other words, preparations for this Apostolic Constitution have been in process for 170 years, and some of the preparations have been made at levels that are higher than popes.

It is true that in the United States and Canada some Episcopalians have been willing to divide the church in order to introduce innovations to the sacraments of ordination and marriage without the authority of the rest of the church Catholic. Some believe that these actions are prophetic, and that church division is a price worth paying. For myself, these innovations raise the question of how a church that claims to be part of the Catholic Church while remaining separate from the Catholic Church can introduce fundamental changes in sacramental theology. I came to believe that simple majority votes within small slivers of the church are not sufficient to deal with fundamental doctrinal changes. It made me realize that the Episcopalian claim to be part of the Catholic Church is simply a beautiful illusion. I have always believed that the Catholic Church is essential to God's relationship with the world, and that if it was important for me to be Catholic, I needed to be in the Catholic Church. Finally realizing I was not Catholic, I joined the Catholic Church.

There's no way that all that can fit into a sound bite.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Come home to the Catholic Church

No one should be surprised at the actions of the recent General Convention of the Episcopal church. It is a brilliant, but not final, victory for equal LGBT rights in the Episcopal church. This victory is unfolding exactly as did the victory for women's ordination. First came a request for dialogue, then came unauthorized action, then came authorized action and promises that the consciences of all would be respected. Finally, with the sincerest condescension, will be the demand for conforming action with the explanation that actions do not violate consciences because consciences are only internal and one's private thoughts may be retained.

At the Anglican Use Conference earlier this summer I talked with a younger former Episcopalian priest who is now Catholic. He was shocked to hear that the groundwork for this victory was being laid over 25 years ago. It probably goes back even farther. This victory is the result of decades of planning and work to gain power at every level.

Please do not assume that because I say the victory is brilliant, that I approve. I certainly do not. Its ruthlessness betrays its true nature. Witness the victors' lawsuits against departing dioceses and parishes. Their intention seems to be total victory at any cost, to take control of all the spoils by achieving the absolute surrender of the vanquished. They are willing to spend a century of the accumulated legacies of past generations intended for "domestic and foreign missions." It means the end of missions and ministries but at least the victors will get title to some nice old, but now empty and useless buildings. The victors have outmaneuvered all opponents and have destroyed all enemies who refused to get out of their way. The victors masqueraded as tolerant people interested only in the inclusion of all viewpoints only as long as they held a minority opinion or held an equal power, but have acted with ruthless power as soon as they outlasted and got rid of enough opponents. Final victory will come only when the orthodox no longer have the right to refuse ordination to the unchaste, just as they lost the right to retain the traditional all-male priesthood. The tragedy is that by then the Episcopal church and not just its buildings will simply be an empty shell. The Glory departed long ago. The victory will be a nuclear victory.

I have the greatest respect for those who have struggled to stay loyal, hopeful, or simply remain below the radar in spite of the Episcopal church's suicidal trajectory, and I have the same respect for those who have tried to find another Anglican option. But is there really any reason for Anglicanism to exist, apart from Anglicanism healed of its split from the rest of the Catholic Church? Isn't the action of Episcopal General Convention simply more evidence that one can't be Catholic outside the Catholic Church? Traditions do not make a person a Catholic, even if many of those traditions look very much like Catholic traditions. Catholicism is not an aesthetic. It is the Faith. I believe the opposite is true of Episcopalianism: it is an aesthetic, not a faith. Episcopalians have many aesthetic gifts to offer the Catholic Church. But the Catholic Church has the Faith to offer Episcopalians.

The Pastoral Provision is an extremely generous invitation to come home to the Catholic Church. Isn't the General Convention simply more evidence that it is time to look into it?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Anglican Use Weddings/Parish Growth

I spoke with one of Kansas City's premier wedding planners to let him know that St. Therese and I are available to work with Catholic/Episcopalian or Anglican couples who need a beautiful church for a traditional Anglican Use wedding. Several Kansas City parishes serve as the site for many weddings because of the beauty of the buildings. St. Therese is a hidden gem - a beautiful building, outstanding acoustics and an incomparable liturgy for Catholics with an Anglican or Episcopalian connection.

I'd like to crow a bit about St. Therese. We have just finished a second year of solid growth. Giving increased 9% last year, a bit slower than the 12% growth we experienced the year before, but that still means we have made significant progress for two years in a row. Growth appears to be accelerating. I told the congregation we are heading out of the woods. We are not out of the woods, yet, but we're making progress. Giving is now equal to the giving ten years ago.

Last Sunday several members and former members of St. Mary's were in the congregation. When I asked for a critique from an Episcopal priest in the congregation, he said simply, "That's the way we used to do it at St. Mary's." That is a pretty high compliment.

I'm beginning to think it is time to add a Saturday evening Mass am wondering how we might do that without dividing the parish. We should avoid duplicating any of our existing services, because that would certainly be a disappointing experience.

Our new Knights of Columbus chapter provided a free dinner to everyone at all the Masses last weekend in gratitude for parish support in obtaining our charter.

The new Community Garden is installed and ready for church members and neighbors.

Simple House is working with us on a Block Party for the neighborhood in August. Plenty of parishioners have signed up to go door to door with invitations and plan the food and the games.

St. Therese is an exciting place to be right now.


Avila University Organ coming to St. Therese

I have spent most of the day with a group of volunteers dismantling the pipe organ at Avila University. They have donated the organ to St. Therese - a very generous gift - after determining that they had little use for it and that it hindered their plans for chapel renovation. I have to admit it is a very large instrument for their small chapel. It was an enlightening experience working with organ specialists oohing and ah-ing over mottled metal and rounded thingamabobs in the trompettes. All 580 pipes have been removed, the smaller ones crated and all moved and stored in the balcony and shrine at St. Therese. In another half day the blowers and bellows can be dismantled and moved. Bruce Prince-Joseph and Keith Gottschall of Mid-States Pipe Organ are working out how the nine ranks of the Avila Organ can be combined with the four-rank Kilgen at St. Therese. How it will be installed is the next question. People rave about the acoustics at St. Therese and tell me the organ will sound fantastic in its new home.

As Avila officials were discussing the future of their organ and considering making the contribution to us, I asked Therese to intercede with Teresa of Avila for us. Apparently she did, and we are grateful. I have the feeling she is putting the pieces together for some new project she is revealing to us step by step. To give glory to Jesus, yes. To build up his church, yes. And something very special for the people of the inner city. Can it be of direct service in some way, such as to support the development of a Boy Choir? Bruce is very enthusiastic about the project. I don't think the organ - even if used weekly at St. Therese to support the Anglican Use Mass - is intended for the parish alone. Beauty is certainly not something to be restricted to the wealthy suburbs. If any of you know of examples of churches that use classical music and especially organ music to benefit inner city residents - to give Glory to God and build up the people - let me know.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Kansas City Star on St. Therese Little Flower

The Kansas City Star Magazine ran an article on St. Therese Little Flower Parish recently. I am pleased to say that it was very well done. You may not agree with who we are, but this gives a fair idea of what you would find if you should visit. http://www.kansascity.com/238/story/1247074.html

General Convention of the Episcopal Church

To all of my friends in the Episcopal Church: You, your parishes, dioceses and the Episcopal Church will be in my prayers during this Convention. May you have peace in your hearts, clear minds, and deep humility.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Rejoice and be glad!

Episcopalian bishops and the Presiding bishop often declare that Episcopal priests and bishops who chose to enter a different Anglican province or become Catholic have "renounced their orders." In other words, the Episcopal Church is stating that they have repudiated their ordination and their ministry. Perhaps some have actually repudiated their previous ministry. Many times these same priests and bishops state they never did any such thing.

Before I made a Profession of Faith and entered the Catholic Church, I visited Bishop John Buchanan of the Episcopal Diocese of West Missouri and informed him of my intentions. He was surprised, but we had a cordial conversation. The very next day, I received a copy of an official notice from Bishop Buchanan, ratified by the Standing Committee, that I had renounced my orders. I never renounced my orders. When I made my Profession of Faith as a Catholic, I was not required to renounce them. When I was ordained as a Catholic deacon and priest, I was not asked to renounce them. I still honor my ordinations as deacon and priest in the Episcopal Church. The Catholic Church does, too. I am grateful for all the Episcopal Church taught me, and the Catholic Church, by accepting my seminary education, is apparently grateful, too. I still believe all of my Episcopalian sacramental and pastoral acts had all the validity the Episcopal Church had to offer. In declaring that I had renounced my orders, the Episcopal Church declared I said things that I never felt, believed, said, or intended. The way I see it, the Catholic Church has honored my integrity more than the Episcopal Church.

To be honest, though, I do renounce one particular misunderstanding about my ordination as an Episcopal priest. I renounce my misunderstanding that the Episcopal Church had any authority to ordain me as a Catholic deacon and priest. It seems so clear, now. But I have never renounced and have no intention of renouncing my ordination by Episcopal bishops as an Episcopal deacon and priest.

To those priests and bishops who are receiving copies of declarations that they have renounced their orders when they have never done so, I say, consider who is saying these things about you. Don't worry about it. The words of Jesus give comfort and strength: "Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad!" May you always be so blessed!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

“Subject: Why is there an Anglican Use Mass at your parish?”

I received this note from the website

and thought you might be interested in it and my response

“Subject: Why is there an Anglican Use Mass at your parish?”

“I am writing because I’m wondering why y’all think that it is a good idea to have the Anglican Use Mass at your Parish.  I mean I’m not a regular Catholic but the word on the street is that you are having a bunch of ultraconservative white people come trapsing (sic) into your church on Sunday morning who couldn’t care less about what is going on in your community.  I mean what do people in your neighborhood think about this, or do you really care?”

Dear ____:  A little controversy can be a good thing, but I do not expect that rumors and negativity will easily sway this parish from our commitment to worshiping God, serving our neighbors and working for justice.  You may not realize that Anglo-Catholicism has a very long tradition of social justice involvement and has the reputation of being unafraid to go into the slums in London and poor areas around the world.  For example, St. Mary’s – the Anglo-Catholic parish in Kansas City – was in the red-light district and still serves the urban poor.  Anglo-Catholic parishes have attracted the very rich as well as the very poor.

            People from outside the parish should certainly ask this same question about any of our Masses, “Why do they do things that way when we don’t do things that way at our neighborhood parish?”  We can ask those questions about each other, and for those with open minds there are very good answers.  Each of our Masses is liturgically ultra, but ultra in different ways.  We are all Catholics. We are not boring.  We are different, and if we weren’t different, there would be no reason for us to be here. 

            St. Therese has found a mission in welcoming people into our parish community who do not fit at their local parish.  Whoever is informing you about those coming to our 11:15 Mass is misinformed. The director of the Human Rights Office of the diocese is a member of this parish and attends that Mass.  People who attend that Mass volunteered for our parish Christmas Basket program, contribute the parish’s Emergency Assistance Fund, and support the 64130 Holy Ground service. The core group of our Anglican Use Mass will tell you about St. Therese’s warm and healing welcome and  they now extend that welcome to others.  As long as we stay focused on serving our neighbors, welcoming the outcast, and worshiping God, I think we will meet the purposes for which this parish exists. Very few of our members at any of our Masses live in this neighborhood, but our members from outside our neighborhood make it possible to continue to serve the residents of the neighborhood.  I welcome them, and hope there will be many more. 

I hope you will come visit sometime.

Fr. Ernie

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"Are you a real priest?"

I was back in Fernandina Beach for Aunt Kathleen’s funeral several weeks ago.  My sons and Keen’s other great-nephews were her pall bearers.  After they carried her casket up the long flight of stairs at the entrance of Memorial Methodist Church a couple of hours before the funeral was to begin, I invited them to walk downtown to get a cup of coffee.  They stood out from the crowd, dressed in their blazers or suits, especially compared to everyone else dressed in Florida casual style.  I didn’t consider how I stood out, dressed in clerics.  

The barista stared at me when I said, “I’ll get the coffee for everyone here who is wearing a tie.” 

“Are you a real priest,” she asked me?  “This isn’t for a movie or anything?”  I assured her that I am that this was not.  Her astonished response to my assurance that I am a priest and this was not a movie flabbergasted me.  “I’ve never seen a real priest before.  And I am Catholic!”

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Married Priests

Recently the Kansas City Star ran as story about married Catholic priests, perhaps not remembering they ran a similar story about six years ago. http://www.kansascity.com/238/story/1160841.html

The nice thing about this year’s version of the story is that they avoided repeating the erroneous claim that ordaining married men would prevent child abuse.  I tried to steer the editor in a more worthwhile direction, but had no success.  Here is what I suggested would actually be newsworthy as well as the full answers to questions that were submitted to me.

“I would like to suggest that the really interesting story that has not been written would be about the number of protestant clergy who are converting to the Catholic Church.  Many times it means great sacrifice, the loss of income, shunning by former colleagues and family members, a loss of status.  For many if not most, especially those who do not come from an Episcopal background who receive special consideration, the Catholic Church does not have procedures that are able to evaluate their talents and experience and then deploy them for ministry, whether as lay ministers or ordained deacons or priests.  Even if convert clergy are willing to return to seminary and even though the Vatican is often willing to give permission for them to be ordained, most do not get the chance because there is not a local seminary and dioceses/seminaries are not equipped to provide education for married seminaries especially if they have families.  Yet there are many protestant clergy converting to the Catholic Church every year. Check out information from the Coming Home Network www.chnetwork.orgI received many advantages through the Pastoral Provision for former Episcopal Clergy established by Pope John Paul II and then Cardinal Ratzinger.  It is said that as Pope John Paul II gave instructions to Cardinal Ratzinger on how to set up the Pastoral Provision, he said, “Don’t make it too hard on them.”

 

In answer to your questions:

1)  Preliminaries: I understand that you were an Episcopal priest. For how long? When did you convert? I was an Episcopal Priest for a little over 15 years.  I was “Canon Missioner” at St. Michael’s in Independence until I converted in 1998.  Bishop Raymond Boland was very helpful.  I met with him for about a year before I converted.  He knew that I would convert whether or not he was willing to consider me for ordination as a Catholic.  He was very gracious, but also very careful to make sure that the other priests of the diocese would not be offended or opposed

2)  How long was the process from Episcopal priest to Catholic priest? The process from conversion to ordination was about four years.  The Pastoral Provision process evaluated my seminary education and accepted most of my previous preparation.  I had to prepare for examinations for competency in all the areas that a Catholic seminarian is required to be competent, even areas that I had not studied.  Diocesan priests and faculty members at Conception Seminary assisted me.

3)  How accepted are you, not only in your parish, but from other Catholics?  Since there are 53 married clergy in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, even though I am the only priest, there has been very little problem in being accepted.  Sometimes people have questions, and sometimes I am a lightning rod for people who think that priests who took a vow of celibacy ought to be able to get married and remain active in priestly ministry.  Others need assurance that I am not dishonoring the gifted ministry of priests and seminarians who are true to the celibate way of life.  But those conversations occur only very occasionally.  I am a priest, and only very rarely does being married ever come up in conversation.  In most situations and most of the time it is a non-issue.  I am almost universally accepted.  If I am not, people are too polite to say so.

4)  Any special advantages to being a married priest, and is there a downside?  I think being a married priest is like being a married entrepreneur, restaurant or business owner, or medical doctor.  This is not a 40 hour a week job.  Without some balance it could kill a marriage.  I was married before I was ordained in the Episcopal Church.  Valerie went to seminary with me and has been part of this ministry directly or indirectly since the beginning.  My family keeps me balanced and rooted.  Sometimes they are my biggest challengers.  I love being a husband and father.  I do not know what is like to be a priest and be celibate.  I can certainly see some advantages for the celibate priest, especially when I am telling Valerie that I am headed out for the fourth evening meeting in week.

  5)  Why is your title "pastoral administrator" and not "pastor"?  I am in parish work as Pastoral Administrator because Bishop Finn recognized that St. Therese needed a priest and thought that I had the ability.  It is a true honor and privilege to be assigned to parish work and I am grateful to him for the opportunity to serve St. Therese Parish this way. When Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger set up the process in the early 1980s the church had very little experience with married priests and even though they were courageous in granting permission for married convert clergy to be ordained, they were unsure of how we would be received and wanted to make sure that we did not cause a scandal.  So they originally envisioned that we would be assigned as teachers and in other support jobs and not as pastors.  Being Pastoral Administrator can be considered as one of those support jobs.  Having the title Pastoral Administrator has the additional advantage of salary and benefits that are appropriate for someone with a family.