The St. Bede, Williamsburg Affair

[written 1/16/20]


God made us male and female. God became a baby boy, who grew up to be a man. The Scriptures conclude with the wedding banquet of the Lamb.

Lord Jesus made the marriage of a man and a woman a sacrament of the New Covenant. The celebration of Mass involves a nuptial mystery. A priest does not preside at the altar in order to attain some kind of personal primacy or honor for himself; he celebrates in the person of Christ the Bridegroom of the Church.

Men are not “better” than women. Man and woman, coming together, give life. In the nuptial mystery that gives life, man and woman must co-operate. They are not interchangeable in their distinctive roles.

Same goes for the priesthood and the celebration of Holy Mass. God became a man in order to save and sanctify the entire human race by His so coming. It’s not like the heavenly Father just flipped a coin to decide if His eternal Word would become a man or a woman. No: the maleness of the Christ comes from the great divine design. The maleness of the ministerial priests of the New Covenant does also.

Being a man doesn’t make anyone better than anyone else. Being a priest doesn’t make anyone better than anyone else. But to be a priest, you have to be a man. Because Christ celebrates the Holy Mass as the Bridegroom of His Church, in the person of His ministerial priests.

All this is essential Catholic doctrine. We say it pertains to the essence of the religion of Christ. We rely on the authority of the popes in this matter. As well we should, since the divine mysteries involved transcend our human reason.

Meanwhile, Anglican and Episcopalian Christians disagree. (Or at least many of them do.) They do not accord the authority of the pope the deference that we do. Indeed, our doing so offends their Articles of Religion, as does our veneration of holy images. They have women priests and bishops.

Susan HaynesThe Episcopalians of Virginia are our friends. We Catholics owe them a debt of gratitude. Even though certain aspects of our religion offend theirs, they let us use their church buildings for years, when many of our nascent parishes had no property.

We had a controversy in Williamsburg. The pastor of the parish of St. Bede, with the approval of our bishop, had offered the use of our church to the Episcopalians of the Diocese of Southern Virginia. So that they could have the consecration of their new bishop in a suitably large church building. (They have no cathedral, and St. Bede seats more people than any of their churches.)

Their new bishop is a woman. To us, this seems impossibly strange. To them, it is normal.

We do not call Episcopalians heretics or schismatics. We do not charge the spiritual descendants of those who separated from the Church with the act of separating. We seek the fellowship of all brother and sister Christians.

Friends can and do disagree on the gravest matters, but nonetheless remain friends.

It appears that the new Episcopalian bishop learned that her coming to St. Bede would distress some Catholics, so she found another place to use for her consecration.

We lost a chance to re-pay our friends some of the debt of gratitude we owe them, for their hospitality to us in the past. The pastor of St. Bede, and our bishop, missed a chance to explain clearly why the Catholic Church doesn’t believe in the ordination of women.

Sad situation all around, in my book.

Disputable Articles

a rod review
Look, I was AIMING for that camera!

The big ecclesiastical news of the past month is that Pope Benedict intends to make it easy for Anglicans to come into full communion with the Church.

Entire Anglican parishes–even dioceses–will be able to unite fully with the Pope while retaining some distinctive Anglican practices.

book common prayerWhich brings us to the Book of Common Prayer, the Anglican liturgical prayerbook.

This book was a companion of mine for years, before my reception into the R.C. Church in 1993.

The Book of Common Prayer book was originally published by the Protestant bishops in England in 1549. It has undergone a number of revisions. Different Anglicans use different editions.

The Preface to the edition published by the Episcopal bishops in the new United States in 1789 concludes with an exhortation about the use of the prayerbook:

It is hoped that [this book] will be received and examined by every true member of our Church, and every sincere Christian, with a meek, candid, and charitable frame of mind; without prejudice or prepossessions; seriously considering what Christianity is, and what the truths of the Gospel are; and earnestly beseeching Almighty God to accompany with his blessing every endeavor for promulgating them to mankind in the clearest, plainest, most affecting and majestic manner, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our blessed Lord and Savior.

Granted, this is a thoroughly edifying sentence. But the book contains errors.

The book features only two of the seven sacraments. The prayers in this book do not honor the Blessed Virgin or any of the saints, and the rules prohibit praying for the souls in Purgatory.

The book does not include prayers for the Pope.

The book systematically refuses to express that the Holy Mass is the sacrifice of Christ and that He is truly present–Body, Blood, soul, and divinity–in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar. The book requires that the chalice be offered to the people.

The Church embraces many styles of ceremony for the celebration of Her faith. But there is only ONE faith, the Catholic faith.

St. Augustine
The faith is expressed in the teaching of the Popes and Councils, including the Council of Trent. Parts of the Book of Common Prayer were originally published precisely to contradict the teachings of the Council of Trent.

The Book of Common Prayer was edited for use as a Catholic liturgical prayerbook in 2003. The errors of doctrine were fixed. The revised book is called the “Book of Divine Worship” (this link takes a long time to load).

Apparently, a few Anglican-use Catholic parishes already use this revised prayerbook. Perhaps this version will be the book used in all Anglican-use churches.

…Last Sunday I published a silly little sermon about miracles. I tried explain that the Lord Jesus worked miracles not for the sake of working miracles, but for the sake of communicating the mystery of the Kingdom of God. In other words, His miracles were signs, as St. John called them in his gospel.

Anyway: St. Augustine explains this much better in the first part of his Sermon 98

Tough loss for the Caps this evening. Bad news: After a fisticuffs, Ovechkin left the ice with an undisclosed “upper body” injury.

ovechkin scuffle

100 Years of the Cathedral School for Boys

Andre Agassi, last to win U.S. Open in five-set Finals match
Andre Agassi, last to win U.S. Open in five-set Finals match
It has been a decade since a U.S.-Open Men’s Finals match went to five sets. Delpo just beat Federer in the fourth-set tiebreaker. The tall man is making Federer Federer. Very exciting…


My father, my brother, and I attended St. Albans School during some formative years of our lives. The school opened 100 years ago this fall.

I was pretty miserable at the time, but I thank God for my years at St. Albans.

lane johnstonI had more homework at St. Albans than I ever had in college or graduate school. The boys at the National Cathedral school were mean to each other, cruel. The cross-country coach made us run until we threw up.

But I came to understand four crucial things while I was a St.-Albans boy:

1. Being a gentleman is always its own reward.

2. The Church is as inevitable as the sun and/or moon.

3. Liberal Protestantism could not account for the truth of #1 and #2, so the discerning man looked to the Pope for clear teaching.

4. If you can write a clear sentence, you can make an impact in this world.

I wouldn’t be who I am without these precepts firmly entrenched in my mind. Therefore, I feel it is my duty to pray to God: “Vouchsafe thy blessing, we beseech Thee, O Lord, upon the School and upon all other works undertaken in thy fear and for thy glory,” as the St. Albans school prayer has it.

…More to come on Delpo and Roger…

He Says He is Alive, Plus Father CutiĆ©

Discussing St. Paul
Discussing St. Paul
In the autumn of A.D. 60, Portius Festus arrived from Italy to begin his assignment as Roman governor of Judea. He inherited a number of problems. One of them was that St. Paul was languishing in his jail.

King Herod Agrippa II came to the seaport city of Caesarea to greet the new governor. The king’s great-grandfather had built the city to curry favor with the waxing Roman empire.

Festus knew little of Judaism and nothing of Christianity. Nonetheless, in his conversation with Herod Agrippa, the new Roman governor unwittingly distilled the life of St. Paul into one single, perfect sentence.

Continue reading “He Says He is Alive, Plus Father CutiĆ©”