Interesting video of an archaeological dig at Chicksands Gilbertine Priory

Following the news of the revival of the Gilbertine Order, it may be interesting to watch this video from the Discovery Channel about an exploratory archaeological dig at the former Gilbertine priory at Chicksands, Bedfordshire, England.

The video is admittedly rather lighthearted but it does contain a lot of information about the Gilbertine Order. And here is an artist’s impression of what the priory may have looked like in the 13th Century.

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Tampa Bay Ordinariate group forming

We’ve been asked to post information about this new group forming in Florida.

Here’s an excerpt of news from the site:

Philip Mayer, who formerly served as an Episcopal priest before becoming Catholic, was recently asked by the director of vocations and clergy development of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter to begin seeking to establish a community in the Tampa Bay area with the goal of building a parish. Once the community has been formed, Philip will, God willing, be ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in order to say Mass for the new community and to lead it to becoming a parish.

We would like to invite you to come and celebrate Pentecost and pray with us for the formation of this community by joining us for Evensong (chanted evening prayer) and a potluck Sunday, June 4, 2017 at 5:00 PM at St. Mary Catholic Church, 15520 North Blvd, Tampa. Children are welcome.

We wish this new community well!   Please send us some pictures to post!

There is a lovely picture of Philip Mayer and his family over at the site.

We wish you every spiritual blessing in Christ!

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The North American Ordinariate revives the Gilbertine Order

The former Companions of the Order of Saint Benedict of Brandon, Manitoba, Canada, have sent us the latest issue of their newsletter, which is now entitled “The Gilbertine”.

In this newsletter they report that their religious community has been renamed the Order of Saint Gilbert of Sempringham. Here is an extract from the newsletter:

A Gilbertine Revival

The Companions of the Order of St. Benedict (OSBCn) have been in an exciting period of discernment since they made the decision to leave the Anglican Church of Canada in favour of full communion with the Catholic Church — and discernment has meant change…

The almost seven months since the Benedictine Community of Sts. James and John left the Anglican Church of Canada has been an adventure in faith and trust in God the Holy Trinity; and the adventure has meant an openness to change — and there have been several.

First was a significant loss of membership as the wider Anglican Benedictine family reacted negatively to the news of full communion. Along with that was a name change to ‘The Companions of the order of St. Benedict’, and now, after a lot of prayer and discussion, the community has reshaped itself as a Gilbertine Order.

The Gilbertines, founded by St. Gilbert of Sempringham in 1131, are a part of the Anglican Patrimony which thrived until 1538 when they were suppressed by Henry VIII. Since the order was uniquely English, it was entirely devastated during the English Reformation.

“Father Perkins (Vicar-General of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter) first brought the Gilbertines to my attention when I first spoke with him on the telephone” Prior Robert-Chas. says, adding that he knew very little about the order except to say they were English and were a double house of both genders. “Father said our group reminded him of the extinct order and as I’ve learned more about them, I can certainly see why.”

When the Brothers met with Bishop Lopes in Houston in March, he reiterated Father Perkins’ observations and encouraged the community to prayerfully consider reviving the order. The Gilbertines are a uniquely English expression of Benedictine spirituality. Perhaps the most distinguishing factors are the inclusion of Sisters, Brothers and Canons Regular under one house (divided by gender) and the use of a double Rule: that of Sts. Benedict and Augustine.

“You can imagine our surprise at the notion” Prior Robert-Chas. says. “But as we’ve learned more, and prayed on it, we can see why he made the suggestion. In so many ways, our community was already Gilbertine in flavour.”

Of course now that this direction has firmly been established, formal Constitutions will need to be drawn up, the habit amended, and other details adjusted to conform to Gilbertine traditions and patterns. Organisationally there will be changes, but not as many as one would suspect, and there will be even fewer changes yet that affect the day-to-day life of community members.

“The idea isn’t to pretend that the past 500 years haven’t passed, but rather that we look at the framework that St. Gilbert put in place so long ago, to ask his patronage, and to adapt it to the context in which we find ourselves today” Prior Robert-Chas. says. “Our Bishop is a dynamic thinker — he didn’t want to change our community, but rather wanted to find a framework that would help us flourish in our sense of call and vocation as Catholic Religious. This does that wonderfully.”

The Companions of the Order of St. Benedict — formerly the Community of Sts. James and John — will now be known as the Order of St. Gilbert of Sempringham (GSmp). The group continues as a Private Association of the Faithful, but hopes to become a Public Association of the Faithful when they meet the required criteria.

In concrete terms this development involves relocating the Order to St John the Evangelist parish in Calgary, Alberta, where the brothers will move into the presbytery as soon as Fr. Lee Kenyon and his family leave at the end of June this year.

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Anglicans for Life at Canada’s March for Life

IMG_20170511_183307Yesterday, as I was doing my day job as a journalist covering the National March for Life in Ottawa, my friend Christopher Mahon, perhaps the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society’s first paid up “life member,” was acting as unofficial ambassador for the Society and Anglican Patrimony by attending an event hosted by Anglicans for Life Canada on the eve of the May 11 March.

Anglicans For Life Canada

5:30 PM  (DOORS OPEN AT 5:15 PM)

Hosted by Church of the Messiah

The Church of the Messiah is an Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) parish and the Anglican Network is a diocese of the Anglican Church in North America (ANCA)—a  body from separated from both the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church but still in communion with  Canterbury.

Christopher and I had recently gone to the installation of the new rector of St. Peter and St. Paul’s, another ANiC parish to build bridges, and welcome the new rector Canon Brent Stiller and his family to Ottawa.

At the reception prior to the Rose Dinner last night, Christopher introduced me to Rev. Vicky Hedelius, the national director of Anglicans for Life Canada, who is based in Burlington, Ontario.   It was a delight to meet her!


And it was great to see the Bishop Charlie Masters of ANiC on Parliament Hill, along with the ANCA Archbishop’s Canon Jack Lumanog, who came up from the United States to take part.  They are shown below alongside some of the eight Catholic bishops who came to the March.  You can see in this photo Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast in the ball cap; behind him the president of Campaign Life Coalition Jim Hughes, the Apostolic Nuncio to Canada Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi who is behind the Cardinal-Archbishop of Toronto Thomas Collins and the Kingston Archbishop Brendan O’Brien.

DSC00941ANiC Anglicans tend to be more low church, evangelical and charismatic than we were before entering the Catholic Church, but what we share with them is a love of God, joy in living out the call of the Gospel, and a reverence for Scripture.  I always enjoy being with them. They are alive in Christ.DSC01198

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Blogging and the dangers of ‘scandal porn’

A friend of mine used to have a Catholic blog that did a lot of investigative work revealing how some Catholic institutions were not following Catholic teaching.

He told me he took down his blog because he realized a couple of things:  first, he realized his efforts were like cursing the fig tree—and that they would not bring something that was dead or fruitless back to life; secondly he wanted to refocus his efforts on building up the Church rather than tearing down.

He also said it becomes easy to traffic in “scandal porn” and that’s not a good thing.

I’ve often thought of that conversation and the lure of “scandal porn,” when this or that negative thing is uncovered and reacted to in the Church and the blogs light up.

Steve Skojec over at One Peter Five has an interesting post up in this vein entitled:  “The Dangers of Focusing Only on the Negative in the Church.

If we focus only and always on what’s wrong, we habituate ourselves to seeing the bad in everything, and it becomes an impediment to our spiritual growth.

This is so true!

Skojec links to an excellent talk by Fr. Chad Ripperger that is something all of us should listen to.   It outlines the dangers of adopting a negative mindset.  Please go on over and listen to the video.

It is so much more in our carnal nature to curse rather than to bless; to tear down rather than to build up; to discourage rather than exhibit the spiritual gift of encouragement and exhortation.

Whenever I am tempted to surf for scandal porn, I am reminded of this from Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  (KJV)

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Fr. Ed Tomlinson on genuine Anglican spirituality

The great priest blogger Fr. Ed Tomlinson has another great post up about some of the controversies wracking the Church of England.

He writes:

How different Anglican difficulties look from outside not within!


Were I still Anglican I would undoubtedly be getting my knickers in a twist at the impossible ecclesiology of it all. How can you have bishops ‘created by faction’ each out of communion with the other?


Doubtless it will lead to conflict; but then conflict has raged in the Church of England ever since it embraced the modernist mindset. How could it not? You may opt for fidelity to the Gospel or to the Spirit of the Age but to attempt both is madness.

I remember back in the days the Anglican Church of Canada was debating whether to allow same-sex blessings—-the ship on women priests had sailed long before and led to our parish’s breaking away in the late 1970s—how grateful I was none of these debates were  impinging on our coffee hours after Mass or in any way dividing us.

We felt like we were in an oasis of calm in the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada.

Our divisions showed up later, when, after the publication of Anglicanorum coetibus our request to come into communion with the Catholic Church was being taken seriously and we had to evaluate, each one of us individually, whether we really, sincerely, did want to become Catholic with all that entailed.

Some were concerned about a “bait and switch” —that Pope Benedict’s document looked like our Anglican patrimony would be respected, but would the process survive Romanizing and homogenizing tendencies.

We lost a third of our parish in a painful church split prior to our coming into the Catholic Church five years ago.  The result is yes, we came in smaller, but we came in more united, more docile to the Holy Spirit and consequently the Catholic Church than ever, more solidified as a community of faith.

Fr. Tomlinson concludes:

It saddens me to see the Church of England divided. It saddens me that a body, once so gentle but broadly orthodox, is now modernist to the point that orthodoxy struggles to flourish within it. But then that is, in part, why many of us are now about the business of preserving the very best of Anglican patrimony but on a different shore. In that place where unity is secured upon the barque of Peter. Dare I suggest it will be here, in the Ordinariate, not within the rapidly mutating Church of England, that authentic Anglican spirituality will be located a generation hence?

This is why the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society exists, to help ensure the very best of Anglican patrimony is located in the Ordinariates.

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Ed Peters weighs in on Anglican Orders

Father Z led me to this post by Canonist Ed Peters on the Tablet story by Christopher Lamb citing Cardinal Coccopalmerio on the validity of Anglican Orders.

Here are some excerpts, but do go over and read the whole thing:

” . . . while Anglican orders are themselves invalid, some Anglicans are nevertheless validly ordained—not in virtue of their Anglican orders, to be sure, but in virtue of a post-Edwardian reintroduction of valid orders (conferred by break-away Catholic bishops or Orthodox prelates), such that a given Anglican minister might, by doing an ‘ordination pedigree’ search, be able to trace his orders back to a prelate possessed of valid orders. Such a query can be tedious, of course, and it might impact only a small number of Anglican ministers, but I think it only fair to acknowledge the possibility. (For what it’s worth, I think the Roman decision to ordain “absolutely” all Anglican ministers coming into full communion who wish to serve as priests—if applied without regard for the possibility that some could trace their orders to a bishop with valid orders—is problematic). Maybe this unusual source of sacramental validity is what the prelate had in mind.

If, by the way, our speaker above were not a credential canonist, I would pause to make it clear that the canonical-doctrinal conclusion of the invalidity in Anglican orders does not, repeat not, mean that “nothing happened” at, or as the result of, the rites undergone by Anglican ministers. Such rites can of course be occasions of great grace for their recipients and ministry conducted in their wake can, and doubtless has, helped many to grow closer to Christ. But canonists need no reminding that the power of a devotional rite to dispose one toward a closer cooperation with grace is not to be confused with whether a specific sacrament was (i.e., validly), conferred thereby, and so I mention this point only for the sake of others following this discussion.


That said, and as important as the above questions might be, the cardinal’s further statement, one directly attributed to him, also deserves a closer look: namely, that the Church has “a very rigid understanding of validity and invalidity: this is valid, and that is not valid. One should be able to say: ‘this is valid in a certain context, and that is valid another context.’”

That, folks, is huge.

To that last sentence, Father Z responds:

Huge is right.  Once we go down that path, we don’t know anything any more and we are pretty much Brother Billy Bob’s Faith Community in the old gas station down by the park.

From what I understand, a number of our clergy could trace their orders back to a valid pedigree, but not all.  But they accepted unconditional ordination for a number of reasons, among them the outward certainty for everyone in the Catholic Church of the validity of their orders.


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