Wednesday, 12 December 2012



A group of Anglican nuns from the Community of St Mary the Virgin (CSMV) in Wantage, Oxfordshire, are to be received into the full communion of the Catholic Church in January 2013. Eleven sisters from the historic Anglican community will join the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, the structure established by Pope Benedict XVI to enable groups of Anglicans to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church whilst retaining elements of their liturgical, spiritual, and pastoral heritage. The group includes the Superior of the community, Mother Winsome CSMV. The eleven CSMV sisters, will be joined by Sister Carolyne Joseph, formerly of the Society of St Margaret in Walsingham, who joined the Ordinariate in January 2011. These twelve sisters will initially be established as a Public Association of the Faithful within the Personal Ordinariate. They will be known as the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary and will continue in their work of prayer and contemplation, whilst retaining certain of their Anglican traditions and practices. Foremost amongst these is the tradition of English plainchant for which these sisters are well known.

After consultation with Church of England authorities it has been decided that the sisters will move from their convent in Wantage and, after reception into the Catholic Church, will spend a period of time with an established Catholic community. Following this, the newly established Ordinariate community will seek to find a suitable new home.

Monsignor Keith Newton, the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, said,
“The Community of St Mary the Virgin in Wantage has been at the heart of the Church of England’s Religious Life since the mid-nineteenth century. The contribution of the community to the life of the Anglican Communion has been significant, not least through the community’s care for those marginalised by society in Britain, and also in India and South Africa”. 
Speaking of the decision of the sisters to enter the Personal Ordinariate, Mgr Newton continued, “Those formed in the tradition of the Oxford Movement cannot help but be moved to respond to Pope Benedict’s generous invitation to Anglicans. The sisters have always prayed for the unity of Christians with the See of Peter, now this is to become a reality for them by means of the Ordinariate. We are truly grateful for their faith, courage, and resolve”.

The community has been in discernment about the way forward since the publication of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus in 2009. Mother Winsome CSMV, the Superior of the Community, said,
“We believe that the Holy Father’s offer is a prophetic gesture which brings to a happy conclusion the prayers of generations of Anglicans and Catholics who have sought a way forward for Christian unity. The future of our community is a fulfilment of its origins, and as part of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham we will continue with many of our customs and traditions, whilst also seeking to grow in Christ through our relationship with the wider Church”. 
One sister, who was ordained in the Church of England and is now to be received as a Catholic, said,
“The call to Christian unity must always be the primary motivating factor in the decision of Anglicans to enter the Catholic Church. Anything which impedes that process cannot be of God, and so must be set aside to achieve this aim, which is the will of Christ”. 
 Those members of the community who will remain in the Church of England have expressed their admiration and respect for those who have taken this decision. In a short statement they said, 
“Whilst remaining committed to their Religious vows in the Church of England the sisters of the Community of St Mary the Virgin wish the sisters joining the Ordinariate every blessing on their new life in the Catholic Church, and respect the integrity of their sense of call”. 
The Community of St Mary the Virgin was founded by the Reverend William John Butler and Mother Harriet CSMV as one of the first communities of nuns in the Church of England since the Reformation. Under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary the community has engaged in charitable work throughout the Anglican Communion, whilst maintaining a balance with the life of prayer.


On behalf of Buckfast Ordinariate Group we offer thanksgiving to God for your courage and pray that suitable premises will be found. We are sure you will be joyful in entering the full communion of the Catholic Church, and be a wonderful praying heart in the Ordinariate. Deo gratias.

Queenship of Mary

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Bishop Egan speaks against David Cameron's plans

Bishop Philip Egan, Bishop of Portsmouth has issued the following statement in response to the Prime Minister's comments on the issue of gay marriage:
from Independent Catholic News, Sunday 9th December 2012

David Cameron has said that he is an enthusiastic supporter of marriage and that he does not want "gay people to be excluded from a great institution." Yet however well-intentioned, and despite huge opposition from Christians, Jews and Muslims alike, by attempting to change the natural meaning of marriage, he seems utterly determined to undermine one of the key foundations of our society.

Such a change is of immense significance. By this change, he is luring the people of England away from their common Christian values and Christian patrimony, and forcing upon us a brave new world, artificially engineered.

To "extend marriage to gay people", he intends to impose the will of a tiny minority on the vast majority. If the prime minister proceeds with his intentions, he will pervert authentic family values, with catastrophic consequences for the well-being and behaviour of future generations. He will smother the traditional Christian ethos of our society and strangle the religious freedom of the Catholic Church in Britain to conduct its mission.

Of course, we will need to wait for the results of the current consultation-exercise. But in the meantime, I would like to ask Mr. Cameron: What about my rights as a Christian? Will you exempt the Church, its resources and property, from having to support your harmful ideology? Will Catholic schools, societies and institutions be free (and legally safeguarded) to teach the full truth of Christ and the real meaning of life and love?

The institution of marriage has its ups and downs, but will we ever forget that it was the leader of the Conservative Party who finally destroyed marriage as a lasting, loving and life-giving union between a man and a woman?

Monday, 10 December 2012

Make straight the highways

John son of Zechariah, the prophet of God, who dwelt in the desert wilderness, is starkly contrasted with all the contemporary powers – the great names of his time, and that place. The tetrarchs of Galilee and of the regions of Iturea, Trachonitis, Lysanius and Abilene are mentioned; all very impressive of course. Much more impressive, Tiberius Caesar; who was surely the most powerful man of the time? And his Governor, Pontius Pilate, is also cited – whose name will become infamous later in the gospel – and indeed even later through the Creed. Impressive though all these powers might be, St Luke bids us listen not to any of them, but to this other man, John. Surely if we could have seen him the least impressive of men? He had no material wealth: he wore a simple camel-skin, a leather belt, a staff; and we know, he ate locusts and wild honey. He was a man who was on the edge of human society – in fact, who had deserted human society in preference for a lonely existence in the wilderness. Why should anyone take any notice of him? What possible contribution could he make to anyone's life?

Yet it was he, John son of Zechariah, whom God chose to be His spokesman, His prophet. In fact John was to be the last of the line of great prophets. The word of God came to John in the wilderness – and John emerges to proclaim God's word to all people in the region. St Luke explains who John is, and his great significance, by quoting Isaiah. “A voice cries in the wilderness...” John is the voice that Isaiah prophesied. John is a great prophet and that means his vocation is be the voice, the voice that speaks the word of God, and that alone.

At times we might speak the word of God, but we so often clutter God's word with our own words. We hear God's word at times, but we also clutter it with our thoughts and the noise of the world. John in the desert found the outer stillness, and in prayer found the inner stillness, that meant when he heard the word of God, he knew it for what it was, but most importantly, proclaimed that word and nothing else. This is what made him a great prophet. And it is also why people listened to him. They heard not John son of Zechariah – but a voice that spoke with authority. Through John, they heard God.

When we hear God's word we have a choice: ignore it or be changed by it. There is no alternative. God's word always achieves its purpose in us, which is not to leave us as we are, but to transform us. In the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Every valley will be filled in, every mountain and hill be made low, winding ways be straightened and rough roads made smooth.” John was not called to be a town planner or civil engineer, of course! This refers to us; to each of us. We are to make smooth the way for the Lord within us. We are crooked, we are filled with valleys and mountains and hills, that all need smoothing. John, we are told, proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. This is the making smooth, and preparing the way for the Lord.

Without it, without making the path smooth by repentance, the Lord when he comes will not reach the places He needs to reach for our salvation. John came first, the fore-runner, to prepare the ground, so hearts were ready to respond and welcome the Lord, when He came.

We too must remember the lesson. We must remember that we are called to holiness – to repentance, to conversion of life, to make straight the highways for God within our hearts.

St Paul in his letter to the Philippians, describes this straightening of the road: “My prayer is that your love for each other may increase more and more, and never stop improving your knowledge, and deepening your perception so that you always recognise what is best. This will help you to become pure and blameless, and prepare you for the Day of Christ, when you will reach the perfect goodness...”

If we think, “well I am moderately good, not too bad, I haven't robbed a bank recently, I haven't murdered anyone...I haven't been too bad”; if we think that, then we are ignoring the word of God. Isaiah says “make straight”, not make it a bit straighter! As St Paul exhorts, we must strive for purity and be blameless.

This is really for the same reason John was a great prophet. His heart was made pure through his desert years, so that nothing got in the way when the word of God came to him; and nothing got in the way when he answered the call to proclaim the word. This is what God wants from us; for us not to get in the way. But we do get in the way ; which is sin.

Our work as Christian is to grow in love for one another, and to grow in knowledge and perception, so that when temptation comes we can discern clearly what it is we must do or not do. Growing in charity, and growing in knowledge are the two things we therefore need to be about. It is not sufficient to just fulfil our obligations. We must grow in community and fellowship, supporting one another, and finding opportunities to show our love for one another. The reason for this is not to save ourselves, but as Isaiah states clearly, that all mankind shall see the salvation of God.

DAY NINE (Eve of Pentecost)