Meeting Mascall

A Guest Post by M.J. Kelly
Have you met the Rev. Canon Eric L. Mascall, OSG? In his profound writings he was often, simply styled, E. L. Mascall. If you have not made his acquaintance, this Ash Wednesday, February 14, 2018 is a perfect date to do so. It is the twenty-fifth anniversary of his departure from this life. He left a legacy, in print and in his person, that continues to affect the Anglican Patrimony. I never knew Eric Mascall in the flesh but I remember the first time I “met” him. I encountered Eric Mascall by contemplating the foreheads of his friends.
Whenever discussing a subject touching upon Anglicanism or 20th Century theologians with someone over forty-five, I will usually ask, “Did you know Eric Mascall?” The reaction remains fairly universal; a pause, a thoughtful bow of the head, followed by a slow intake of breath that gives way to a warm smile, then these or similar words follow, “Oh yes, Eric Mascall… You know, he was the finest…” and as the freshly reflected face rises to normal bearing it is always a happier countenance. In all cases of this inquiry: faces warmed, eye softened, voices went up an octave and a wonderful, blessed remembrance would follow.
Eric Mascall continues to stand out for a number of pleasantly peculiar reasons. He was a Thomist in the Church of England, a gentle and pastoral priest, he found he was best suited for teaching and writing Theology. Devotion and doctrine were happily wed in this celibate man who involved himself in the controversies of the time. His degree was in Mathematics, he took a First in the subject at Pembroke College, Cambridge. Fr. George Rutler, in an excerpt concerning Mascall from his book, Cloud of Witnesses – Dead People I Knew When They Were Alive, warmly commends Mascall to us, “As the finest Thomist among the dying breed of High Anglicans, he was called the greatest living 13th-century theologian, but he had been trained as a mathematician and was prepared for the 21st century…” Of particular interest to members of the Ordinariate, Fr. Rutler adds, “Eric foresaw the decline of his ecclesial Communion and left me with no doubt that, had he lived, he would have acknowledged the infallibility of the pope.”
Eric Mascall was something of an autodidact. According to his obituary in the Independent, Mascall tended to make a slight boast of the fact that he had never had formal theological training. Yet he held such learned posts as: Lecturer in Theology Christ Church Oxford 1945-46, Student and Tutor 1946-82 (Student Emeritus), University Lecturer in Philosophy of Religion 1947-62, Professor of Historical Theology King’s College London 1962-73 (Emeritus), Dean Faculty of Theology London University 1968-72. Honorary Canon of Truro Cathedral 1973-84.
Recently, one of Mascall’s earliest works, Christ, the Christian, and the Church: A Study of the Incarnation and Its Consequences has been happily republished by Hendrickson on October 1, 2017 and available at Amazon and other booksellers. Gerald McDermott in his Forward to the republished Christ and the Christian Church notes that Mascall’s theology was hailed for being wide-ranging, incisive, and elegant, and more importantly, “Mascall’s balanced focus on the Incarnation eliminates the false binaries that bedevil so much of the Church today.” For Eric Mascall living in the Church was living in the Body of Christ. The Incarnation is the ultimate and ongoing unitive event in human history, the very meeting place of God and Man.
St. Benedict, in the 48th chapter of his Rule, informs us that Lent is a time of increased spiritual reading. He provided additional time for and insisted on a cover to cover reading of edifying books. I encourage you in this Lenten season to take up on of Eric Mascall’s works, and meet Mascall for yourself and find a ready guide for your soul.

The Sacrifice of the Eucharist


The Eucharist is the Source and Centre of Christian Life– Lumen Gentium

The above statement is the core truth of the Catholic Faith and that many in the Personal Ordinariates, created for groups of Anglo-Catholics seeking union with Rome, have sacrificed greatly for: that the celebration of the Eucharist were Christ is Truly Present is not possible with invalid Anglican orders. Communities have been split, friends turned enemies and even marriages have ended as many Anglo-Catholics sort to enter the fullness of the Catholic faith in the Catholic Church. As our Lord said:

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ Mark 10:34-36

The sword referred to is the sword of Truth, which always comes into conflict with falsehood: in this case you cannot truly be Catholic outside the Catholic Church. A good article of the conversion experience of an ex-Episcopalian Anglo-Catholic priest, now Catholic layman, outlines this journey of awakening.

Have you been to an Ordinariate parish? There are no more zealous Catholics than converts, and most Ordinariate parishes are entire communities of converts who have fled the Liberalism and Protestantism of the Anglican Communion, and uphold the dignity of their Eucharistic liturgy- a Form of the Roman Rite referred to as Divine Worship. If you are in the UK, Canada, USA or Australia (and Japan), there might be an Ordinariate community near you!





Liturgical Prof Hans-Jurgen Feulner on Divine Worship

OLSC Event Poster

We at the Principal Parish of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross have been blessed to have two talks this week by Professor Hans-Jungen Feulner, a liturgy professor who was one the Vatican working group that put together the Ordinariates Divine Worship liturgy. The talks were attended by laity and clergy from both inside and outside the Ordinariate.

The talks focused on the history of Divine Worship, how it is a ‘3rd Form of the Roman Rite’ and the various liturgical options in the appendix of the missal to accommodate the diverse Anglo-Catholic liturgies used by different communities that later became Ordinariate parishes.

The sessions were mainly question driven and ended up covering subjects including the difference between a Liturgical Rite (like the Ambrosian Rite of Milan and those used by Religious Orders) and a Liturgical Use of the Roman Rite, how Divine Worship is not “The Extraordinary Form in English”: as not only is it not a translation of the Tridentine, it contains prayers particular to the Anglican tradition. Also covered was even though the Sarum liturgy is a major influence in Divine Worship, it is also not the Sarum Use in English.

After the second talk I took the opportunity to mention how the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society blog could do with some articles containing his insights- hopefully that request will bear some fruit.

American Recusants

Chronologically, Catholicism first reached these shores at the hands of the French and Spanish; in terms of numbers, the vast majority of Catholic Americans owe their ancestry to French, Irish, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Lithuanian, Croatian, Slovenian, Slovakian, Hungarian, Dutch – and latterly Latin American, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, Indian, and African – immigrants. But there is another variety, intimately tied to the Patrimony, which I had the pleasure of encountering first hand this week, courtesy of Ark and Dove Ventures. Numerically unimportant in comparison to the rest, it is of key historic importance as the milieu wherein arose – for good and ill – our first Bishop in these United States, John Carroll, and from whence arose our very first convents of religious sisters, such as the Visitation Convent in Georgetown, the Carmelites of Port Tobacco, the Sisters of Loretto, and even Mother Seton’s Sisters of Charity (although their foundress was a convert from Anglicanism). So too with Georgetown University. This is the English Catholicism of Maryland, which owes its start (for all that there were crypto-Catholics at Jamestown), to the 1634 arrival of the Ark and Dove at Lord Baltimore’s behest in the Old Line State.

To this day, colonial-era Catholic parishes exist at Newtowne, Chapel Point, Newport, Waldorf, Pomfret, Leonardtown, Medley’s Neck, Bushwood, Morganza, Hollywood, Warwick, and Cordova; the Faith even spilled over into Anglican Virginia. Other congregations could be found in Delaware – the other Penn family colony. The private chapel at Doughoregan Manor, last remaining estate of the Carroll family is a witness to this time when the leading Catholic families of Maryland played roles similar to that of the Recusant nobility and gentry in England, funding churches and preserving the Faith. Meanwhile, the English Jesuits looked after the settlers’ spiritual needs.

When the Wars of the Three Kingdoms fell upon the English colonies, they reacted in different ways. Predictably, New England rejoiced at Cromwell’s victory, and happily swore allegiance to the new regime. Royalist Virginia – called “the Old Dominion” ever since – declared for Charles II, while Lord Baltimore attempted unsuccessfully to convince Cromwell to leave his colony alone. In 1652, a fleet arrived from England to subdue the two colonies – which finally succeeded with the Battle of the Severn; arguably the last battle of the wars, and fought in Maryland. Nevertheless, oppression caused many Cavaliers to emigrate to Virginia and establish plantations; so began the “First Families of Virginia,” who have played such an enormous role in the history of State and Nation since then. The Ark and Dove Society comprises the similar folk in Maryland. Cromwell’s hand lay heavily also over the Royalist English West Indies; there he shipped numerous Scots and Irish as slaves, who became the progenitors of the “Redlegs” of Barbados and elsewhere, and the first settlers of the Irish-influenced island of Montserrat.

Although the Lords Baltimore regained Maryland at the Restoration, news of the so-called “Glorious Revolution” precipitated a copycat revolution in Maryland, and local Protestants seized control: in England William and Mary made Maryland into a Royal colony, and established therein the Church of England; 25 years would pass until the then Lord Baltimore apostasised to regain his land – which was duly granted him. In that time the penal laws were gradually applied, and only Queen Anne’s direct intervention prevented the holders of the Faith from being outlaws entirely. She gave her name to Maryland’s capital (and to Queen Anne’s County in Maryland – as well as to a plant, an architectural style, and Blackbeard’s pirate ship,  none of which she can have had any connexion with), and her husband, Prince George of Denmark, his name to  counties in Maryland and Virginia.

As the 18th century wore on, conditions for Catholics in Maryland slowly worsened. The result was that in the mid-1770s, many Catholics there began to settle in central Kentucky, on what was then the frontier – a movement that would go on after the Revolution. This region of English-speaking Catholicism, including such centres as Bardstown, Holy Cross, St. Mary, and others came to be known as the “Holy Land.” After independence, Catholic Marylanders would send out a few other colonies, including Locust Grove, Georgia. While the latter was not a tremendous success, it did survive; one of its most noted descendants was Catholic novelist Flannery O’Connor.

As noted, a scion of this English-American Catholicism, firmly rooted in the Recusant tradition, was John Carroll. He had been excommunicated by Bishop Briand of Quebec for his wartime efforts to seduce the French-Canadians from their allegiance to George III. Carroll thus, when nominated by Pius VI to be first bishop in the newly independent nation, was forced to go to England to be consecrated, just as the first Episcopalian prelate Samuel Seabury had done six years ealier. As a result, St. Mary’s Chapel at Lulworth Castle in Dorset, seat then and now of the Recusant Weld family and the locale where the ceremony took place, is the cradle of the Catholic Episcopate in these United States (and should be a pilgrimage site in England for Catholic Americans of all liturgical rites as a result). Ironically, George III and his Queen, Charlotte, had stayed there with the Welds the year before.

The decades and centuries have passed; but the English-American Catholic tradition in Maryland, Delaware, and Kentucky has continued with its own distinct flavour in the Archdioceses of Washington, Baltimore, and Louisville, and the Diocese of Wilmington. Moreover, the evangelising efforts of the early Jesuits in Maryland continue to bear fruit in the Indian and black communities of that state whose descendants trace their lively faith to them.  Out of the way corners though they may be located in, Ordinariate members who visit these sites will find themselves in the presence of long-sundered co-inheritors of the Patrimony.

Billy Graham, may he rest in peace

In 1998, Billy Graham came to Ottawa for was was no longer called a Billy Graham Crusade, but a Billy Graham Mission.  Even then, certain sensitivities were taking over.

For four or five nights twenty years ago, people packed Ottawa’s hockey arena—more than 20,000 people each night.  Many were Catholics.  And, as was usual for a Billy Graham Mission, thousands flowed down to the floor of the arena while a massive 2,500 voice choir sang, “Just as I am” to make a public commitment to receiving Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.

To an outsider, it might look like this:  a famous evangelist shows up in town and thousands of people came, presto!  Just like that.   But what that outsider did not see was the months and months of preparation and advance work Billy Graham’s evangelistic association put in to prepare the ground and to ensure local people were equipped to counsel those who came forward and provide them with materials to start them on their way to walking with Jesus and reading their Bible.

I was a Baptist at the time, and my parish was one of the hubs in Ottawa of pre-mission training.   Any of us who wanted to be a counsellor had to commit to this training, which was designed to teach us how to share the Gospel.  We even had homework, and one week it was to share a tract that had the typical four-step process in it—-God loves you and has a plan for your life:  Sin separated us from God’s plan;  Jesus Christ died for your sins on the Cross so your relationship with God could be restored:   Would you to repent—i.e. acknowledge you are a sinner and in need of repentance and accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior?

I dreaded doing this homework and I especially did not want to identify with those types of Christians who used tracts, like some kind of street corner evangelist.   But, I did my homework, and was amazed that those I asked went through the steps with me and were eager to ask Jesus into their hearts.  It astonished me.  At first the whole preparation seemed to me to be a huge public relations juggernaut, but once I was there on the floor with my materials and training, I could see the wisdom of it and how it opened my eyes to miracles taking place right before my eyes.

I remember when hearing Billy Graham preach several nights in a row, he stuck to the message of Adam and Eve, the fall of mankind, the need for redemption and Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the Cross.  I remember wondering at the time whether the whole idea of being a sinner would still resonate with people.   It sure resonated with me when it came my time to repent big time, but today?   It’s 20 years later and does a message about Adam and Eve fall on deaf ears?   Continue reading

The Faith vs Freemasonry


The above words were issued by the then head of the CDF Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI, reaffirming the centuries old ban on Catholics being involved in Freemasonry. A good in-depth article on the topic can be found here.

Masonry is highly political: it is a fraternity that exercises a strong ‘in group preference’ with a large international network seeking to advance its members, and therefore strengthen the organisation- there is little wonder why so many Freemasons in high ranking positions.

While other Christian groups ban or discourage their members from being Freemasons, The Anglican Communion and other Continuing Anglican groups do not- indeed many senior clergymen are heavily involved. When doing research for this article I found this discussion on a Freemasonry forum if any other Mason on the forum was an Anglican -which I found quite enlightening.

Considering the naturalism and relativism at the heart of Freemasonry, this might go a long way to explaining the sorry state of the western sections of the Anglican Communion were Christian tradition and scripture are constantly disregarded almost to the point were anything goes.

Even ‘Continuing Anglican’ Anglo-Catholic groups like the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) haboured Freemasons. I regularly met with the TAC priest in Auckland, New Zealand, who swore he and all but one of the members of his parish were greatly excited to enter into union with Rome. I Googled him online and found he was a member of a Masonic Lodge; when I brought it up with him he said he would leave so he could be an Ordinariate priest- he ended up not coming over. From what I have been told many TAC clergy that were all for unity with Rome, when presented a choice between being Catholic or being a Freemason chose the latter.

I am personally from an Anglican family heavily involved in Freeasonry , so my conversion to Catholicism might not have been the most well received- but I am glad I have been able to return to my Anglican heritage in an Ordinariate and be able to join a Catholic fraternal order. I am aware that there are many mainstream ‘Roman’ Catholics who are involved with Freemasonry; willfully ignoring Church teaching for material advantage and to them I would say:

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Mark 8:36.

Cardinal Newman and the development of doctrine

Back in the day when I was an evangelical, and then a traditional  Anglican, I had well-meaning Catholic friends throw Cardinal Newman’s “conversion” from Anglicanism to Catholicism in my face.

It didn’t help at the time.  In fact, all pressures to “convert” to the Catholic faith in my case were met with heels firmly planted in the linoleum.  Hence the skid marks.

Now, however, I appreciate Cardinal Newman now and the continuity he represents in the roots of our Anglican patrimony as deeply Catholic.  His understanding of the development of doctrine takes on new significance as the Church grapples with interpretations of Pope Francis’ post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

This brings me to an article by the former Prefect for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Muller now posted at First Things Magazine entitled: Development or Corruption?

Muller points out that some are using CArdinal Newmans 1845  Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine to justify a “paradigm shift” in interpreting the Deposit of Faith.  Continue reading

Observing a Holy Lent

I didn’t get off to a good start this Lent.  I didn’t manage to get shriven on Shrove Tuesday as I was lying under layers of blankets experiencing chills.  Wednesday, though I felt a little better, I thought I had better not push it.  So I missed Mass on Ash Wednesday for the first time since Ash Wednesday became important to me.

It’s been all I can do to try to keep up with my journalism work while feeling like my head is filled with cotton.

So, here I am, on a Saturday morning, feeling a bit like I’ve “blown” Lent.  Continue reading