Posted by: fvbcdm | March 12, 2012

Feast of Saint Seraphina (12 Mar 2012)


One of the games we like to play is “trivial pursuit,” a sort of quiz game which tests one’s knowledge of this or that category of knowledge. Today, I am reminded of a favorite question in that game, which is: can you name the seven hills of Rome?

I think of this today because over the weekend, Pope Benedict and the Protestant archbishop of Canterbury met in the Benedictine abbey on the Coelian Hill—one of those seven hills—to pray together and strengthen the ecumenical ties that are more and more binding our two churches. Little by little, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, the sad split between our two communions is being repaired and we can hope that before long, there will be total reunion.


Why the Coelian Hill, which is very close to the Roman forum and the Colisseum? Because in the year 596, Pope Saint Gregory wished to begin the evangelization of Great Britain.  He sent a group of about forty monks from the Benedictine abbey on that Coelian Hill to the far-off island off the northwestern coast of Europe.  The leader of that group was Augustine—called Augustine of Canterbury to distinguish him from the great theologian of north Africa, Augustine of Hippo.  The group of monks established themselves near the southeast corner of Britain at a place called Canterbury.  That name was associated with the religious leaders of Britain from then on, both when Britain was Catholic and even after Henry VIII had accomplished the split of the church in England from the church of Rome.   So now, we call the leader of the Anglican church the Archbishop of Canterbury and the leading bishop of the Catholic Church in England the Archbishop of Westminster.  This last weekend, Pope Benedict met at that ancient Benedictine abbey on the Coelian Hill with the Protestant archbishop of Canterbury to emphasize our common history, our desire for unity, and the progress which is being made on our long and slow journey toward those goals.  


This history is especially meaningful to us here in Houston, because a priest who converted from Anglicanism to Catholicism and who lives here has just been made the head of the Anglican usage of Catholicism for our whole nation, and one of our local parishes, Our Lady of Walsingham, is now the principal church of that usage in our nation.  All of this was unheard of even within our own lifetime, and now, thank God, it is happening with the glad cooperation of all those involved in it. May our Lord prosper these initiatives and bring them to perfection through the intercession of Saints Gregory the Great, Augustine of Canterbury, and all the martyrs of the English reformation.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

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