Sunday, February 01, 2015

My parish: the church that Fr. James built


Ecce Agnus Dei: ecce qui tollit peccata mundi.

  • I know Catholicism isn't about "Paul vs. Apollos" and part of the essence of the traditional Mass is it's independent of the priest's personality, but just as we venerate saints, here Fr. James is much loved. Much like Anglo-Catholic rectors in bygone days, Fr. James high-churched what's been my parish for three years so far. Possible because the archdiocese turned over the administration of this city parish, a Victorian exposition chapel with Gothic trappings, to a conservative order of friars (after a merger, they're also running St. Donato's, an Italian church a little southwest of us). Fr. James' pastorate was about co-terminous with Benedict the Great's pontificate. Today for Septuagesima he honored us with a visit to celebrate the Mass he implemented here. Standing in as master of ceremonies (the top altar boy) was the second priest in the picture, Fr. David, who was still Brother David when Fr. James was here and is our regular celebrant for only one more month. As far as I know, Fr. James is a born Catholic; I've never asked him what, besides the faith, inspired him to move Our Lady of Lourdes up the candle but I wouldn't be surprised if he went to old-school Anglo-Catholic St. Clement's and Good Shepherd, Rosemont and took good notes. St. Rocco's, Cleveland, one of the order's other parishes, is blessed to have him.
  • Speaking of notes: Ritual Notes is online. Catholics have Fortescue, Martinucci, and O'Connell; this was an Anglo-Catholic book ostensibly to high-church the Prayer Book but really to do our Mass. A movement that started by asserting Anglicanism's divine claims partly against Catholic emancipation ended up copying the church.
  • By the way, the point of today's gospel is Jesus wasn't teaching economics! (The church teaches that defrauding the worker of his wages is a sin that cries out to heaven for justice.) No, it's that no matter how long you have been with God's grace, it's still a free gift (our Lutheran close cousins had a point) to the 11th-hour sinners who sincerely repent, etc. Then of course once you're in, keeping God's free gift involves work (the race run, etc., in today's epistle) such as prayer and penance. Why church worship is called a service; it's a service we owe God but is for our benefit. It is work. Fr. James' description of heaven would please the Christian East: that's work too, a joyful kind like the best job you ever had, still progressing in holiness. We don't believe you earn your way into heaven.
  • The Mozarabic language. I had no idea. Looks like a medieval stage in the evolution of Spanish.

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