19 January 2018

Ecumenism and the God of Surprises (2)

Father Christopher Phillips, the charismatic Founding Pastor of the Parish and Church of our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio, graciously invited me, a few years ago, to spend some time in his Parish and in its Academy. I found this a truly wonderful experience ... not only because of the vibrancy and deep devotion of both Parish and Academic life ... and not only because of the warmth of the welcome I received from Father and from JoAnn and their congregations ... but something else as well. Let me explain.

Long decades before the Ordinariates were much more than just a gleam in the eye of our dear Professor Ratzinger, he had encouraged the setting up of "Anglican Use" parishes in which former Anglicans would continue to enjoy their Anglican Patrimony ... in theology, spirituality, yes; but especially in Liturgy.

The project worked so well that flocks of cradle Catholics with no "Anglican Previous" flocked in. San Antonio being San Antonio, this included many Latinos. They were entranced by the solemnity and dignity of what Fr Phillips ... or perhaps I should write, the Holy Ghost ... had got going. How packed that Church was!

And I was immensely moved by hearing English Tudor liturgical formulae (written by a poor misguided old Zwinglian who learned his errors in Cambridge and paid for them outside the Master's Lodgings of Balliol College in this University) on the lips of Hispanic Catholics; men, women, and children whose ancestors might easily have sailed in the Armada.

The God of Surprises again!! A great ecumenical coming-together; fruit of the vision of a small number of far-sighted Anglican priests such as Fr Phillips  and Fr Hawkins ... and of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI; the first and highly successful example of ecclesial communities from each side of the Reformation divide coming together and living in perfect amity and orthodox unity.

6 comments:

Claudio Salvucci said...

Oh how foolish is the world to seek racial unity in anything but the Church!

Where the See of mighty Rome was founded by a Galilean fisherman, where a little Sicilian girl remains the revered light of the dark Swedish winter, where an Italian Pope was entranced by angelic Saxon faces at a slave market, where a Spaniard boldly declared himself the eternal slave of Congolese in Colombia, and where a blackrobed Belgian fulfilled a Kalispel medicine man's dream of an unknown God.

How blessed we are, to know the true brotherhood of man in Christ.

Jason W. said...

This harmony and the large numbers of Hispanics by the way, is certainly part of the reason that the Archbishop of San Antonio has taken such actions against the parish, and why he continues to do so today. He cannot believe that Catholics of Hispanic descent don't want Mariachi Masses and actually prefer what Our Lady of the Atonement does.

Fr. Christopher George Phillips said...

How generous of you to make mentioned of this early chapter, and how gratifying to see that small seed now grown and bursting with Ordinariate fruit!

coradcorloquitur said...

I, too, have visited Our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio, Texas, twice---and wish I could move there today. Fr. Phillips is not only a brilliant, devout priest, but a courageous and manly one (a species sorely lacking in the ranks of the clergy, especially the bishops, these days). The school there is a stunning success with close to 1,000 students, Father informed me during a gracious tour he gave me. The pews are filled not only with former Episcopalians but with orthodox cradle Catholics escaping the heterodoxy and liturgical horrors of many Novus Ordo parishes. Atonement is indeed an advance of what awaits the Elect in the after-life: shimmering truth is preached, education is sound and classical, the liturgy is as splendid as it can get this side of heaven, the music eminently worthy of Catholic worship, congregational singing is sturdy and mature, the congregation truly diverse (not the phony, wilted diversity of the liberals but the diversity that has always existed in Christ's Church) and evidently joyous. I pray that the peace they enjoy---and which believing Catholics should have in their churches---is not disturbed in the future as it briefly was not long ago, when the local diocese tried to make trouble. Strangely, Deo gratias, their case succeeded in today's Rome---indeed a miracle given the reign of injustice and intrigue that exists there these days. I hear Fr. Phillips has just retired: may the Good Shepherd bless and reward this admirable, faithful priest and inspire his successor (from Washington, DC, I think) to continue this splendid Work of God.

Mayra Lewis said...

My family and I have found Our Lady of Atonement to be our parish for some time now because we really encounter the reverence and respect for Jesus Christ in the most sacred way. We feel blessed to be part of this legacy in San Antonio....God bless Father Philip, Father Lewis, Father Moore and all the clergy for such a wonderful dedication to all us parishioners!

Mayra Lewis said...

My family and I have found Our Lady of Atonement to be our parish for some time now because we really encounter the reverence and respect for Jesus Christ in the most sacred way. We feel blessed to be part of this legacy in San Antonio....God bless Father Philip, Father Lewis, Father Moore and all the clergy for such a wonderful dedication to all us parishioners!