Picture at Fatima Network News of a procession of reparation with the Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima statue in St. Peter's Square on Monday. The procession was taking place to make reparation for the travesty of ''Anglican Evensong'' which took place in St. Peter's Basilica.
The Four Pillars of the Faith
From the earliest times of the Church, the elements expressed in Acts 2:42 have been foundational to Catholic belief, practice and catechetical instruction.
In the Douay-Rheims, we read: ''And they were persevering in the doctrine of the apostles, and in the communication of the breaking of the bread, and in prayers.''
We see in this text, the four central pillars which have given structure and shape to the Church's official catechisms, from the earliest times right down until our own day. For this reason, Acts 2:42 has sometimes been referred to as the ''classical catechesis''.
Those four foundational pillars are: Dogma/doctrine; Sacred Liturgy; the Communal moral life that flows from these first two; and Christian prayer offered in community, as well as by individuals.
Looking more deeply at these four dimensions, we can see that: the first pillar is structured on the Apostles' Creed; the second pillar on the Seven Sacraments; the third pillar on the 10 Commandments; and the fourth pillar on the Lord's Prayer.
So fundamental are these four dimensions that they have been described as the ''four pillars of the Catholic Faith''.
Having grown up as a Protestant in mainly Anglican circles, I can tell you from a (now) Catholic perspective how awful it is to lack these God-given pillars, in trying to follow Christ.
What makes Christopher Ferrara's critique of Monday's ''Anglican Evensong at St. Peter's Basilica'' so particularly valuable, is the way in which he begins and develops his case from sound first principles.
In a video at the Fatima Center's Rapid Response Team page, Mr. Ferrara notes that Anglicanism is essentially a human organization, ''and because it is a human organization, it does not enjoy the protection of the Holy Ghost against error. It has drifted with the tide of history, over the past 500 years, descending into all manner of heresy and immorality.''
Let's just go through each of the above-mentioned four pillars and contrast them to Anglicanism.
Although mainstream Anglicanism claims to accept the Apostles' Creed, it is essential to recall that Our Lord Jesus Christ founded One True Church on St. Peter and the Apostles in communion with him. To remain rooted in that Creed then, is to remain in communion with the successors of St. Peter, his Apostles and the Deposit of Faith expressed in that very Creed of Faith.
Imagine attending an ecclesial community - to use the proper word presented by Dominus Iesus - wherein every other vicar, as well as every other person sat in the pews, held differing beliefs on doctrines as basic as: the nature and meaning of the Bible; Original Sin; the efficacy of Baptism; the nature of the Church; the nature and mission of the priesthood; the nature of the Holy Eucharist; the elements of Sunday worship; the manner in which sins may be forgiven; the existence of Purgatory; or the morality/immorality of divorce and re-''marriage''.
Having grown up in Anglican circles, I can tell you that this makes for a horrifically confusing experience. In essence it is sheer chaos.
Unfortunately, it is a kind of confusion that is also rapidly submerging large parts of the Catholic Church, in wake of the terrible dissent from the Magisterium that has too often typified the last five decades.
Following on naturally from those widely diverging differences in basic beliefs, imagine now attending for Holy Communion. Of course, the Anglican community does not have valid orders and so cannot offer a valid Eucharist anyway.
Nevertheless, growing up I encountered vicars of all stripes from ''low-church evangelical'' types to ''Victorian high-church'' figures, and all shades in between.
Some believed they were offering a sacrifice; others that they were celebrating a commemorative meal.
Of these, some had faith in the Real Presence in a Catholic-sounding sense; others believed there was only some kind of symbolic presence; and still others were so convinced there was no presence at all that they scattered the chunks of brown bread, left over on their patens after the morning service, to feed the local sparrows and starlings.
Among them all, some thought there should be a Holy Communion service every Sunday, but others provided this only monthly.
They were all pretty much united in rejecting all of the other sacraments, except for Baptism. However, even here, there were some who held this cleansed of Original Sin; whilst others saw it more in terms of a welcome into the community of ''believers''.
Communal Moral Life
Most of the Anglicans I knew in my youth were respectable ''Best-of-British'' types. As a toddler, the walls of my local parish church were adorned with the 10 Commandments, the Union Flag and the threadbare flags of empire. Local Anglicans would have been horrified to see how our society has collapsed in just a couple of decades into a seemingly near-total acceptance of abortion, cohabitation, divorce and sodomy. They took seriously their attendance at two services on Sunday - Morning Service and Evensong - as well as their duties to be faithful spouses, employees and model citizens. During the week, they took part in evangelizing outreach, fundraising, choir and marching-band practices and ''fellowship'' evenings.
Still, even here things were beginning to collapse as the mores of secularism took hold.
One vicar's wife had been married and divorced, before ''marrying'' the vicar. Sometimes, against the rules of Anglican liturgy, she would even conduct the Sunday service in a pale blue cassock. One organist was similarly divorced and remarried. Contraception was permitted. Although many folks went to church twice each Sunday, there was no actual Sunday obligation to do so. Furthermore, openly admitted Freemasons were tolerated as members of the church-warden leadership...
How spooky is that?
I distinctly remember getting to church on several Sundays in a row when I was just 16 yrs-old, unhooking one of the squashy kneeling cushions from its peg under the pew in front, and suddenly thinking, ''Gosh, apart from the family grace before meals, it is a whole week since I said a prayer, or even thought about the things of God!''
Perhaps that says as much about me at that age as it does about Anglican prayer. However, it is instructive to recall a religion in which there was no real discipline or structure of prayer during the ordinary days of the week.
Imagine having no blessed Crucifixes, Holy Water, Brown Scapulars, Rosary beads, holy pictures, statues or prayer cards in the home to recall you to God's presence, remind you of your faith, encourage you to pray, protect you from evil and console you in grief and loss.
Imagine no opportunity to attend Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Eucharistic Adoration, Stations of the Cross or Marian novenas.
Imagine no Holy Mass, no Real Presence of Jesus, no Confession and Absolution, no Extreme Unction, no Holy Matrimony (as a Sacrament), no real priesthood and no Papacy. Depending on which 'branch' of Anglicanism to which you belonged, imagine not having Our Lady, the Saints or your Guardian Angel to console, guide and intercede for you.
Can you imagine having only a Bible - and an inaccurate translation at that - to keep you going in your faith from one week to the next? Imagine if you went to your vicar with a basic doctrinal question about the Gospels, only to get a different answer from the minister in the next parish; or even from the curate in the same parish!
Where it All Leads...
Where have you hidden my Lord? The ''re-ordered'' chapel at Hinsley Hall from the days of (then) Bishop Arthur Roche's tenure in the Leeds Diocese. From thence he was promoted by Pope Benedict XVI to the Congregation for Divine Worship...
In 2009, I was one of three guest speakers who gave talks on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the importance of orthodox catechesis during a study day in the Diocese of Leeds. It was a marvellous day attended by (then) Bishop Arthur Roche, a handful of priests and several dozen laity. Bishop Roche was kind to Angie and I, and very supportive of the message. He even got up and gave a moving talk at the end about how priests and catechists must help people by teaching them all about the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
In light of that experience, I guess I'm still trying to make sense of his attendance at this ''Anglican Evensong'' at the very Altar of the Chair of St. Peter in Rome. Perhaps the above picture and his attempted restriction of Summorum Pontificum give some clues to the answer... In the same way, I am bemused that Cardinal George Pell would attend and take full part in this sacrilegious spectacle. Isn't he meant to be one of the legendary ''good guys''?
In his ''sermon'' at Monday's event, Archbishop Arthur Roche spoke about St. Gregory's sending of St. Augustine to Canterbury and of the importance of Christian unity.
The point is, however, that Pope St. Gregory sent St. Augustine to establish a fully Catholic mission. It was this that transformed our nation, helped to forge a new people and brought a thousand years of Christian unity; which was only sundered when the English ''Reformation'' wreaked havoc, brought untold persecution and opened the way for the descending centuries of Anglican hegemony. The above analysis should leave us in no doubt that there can be no real unity without Catholic Truth.
As I've written here several times in recent years, this all paved the way for the very secularization and cultural loss of faith that we see all around us today. And being a man-made construct, Anglicanism always carried within itself the seeds of its own religious and cultural destruction.
Had their been no ''English Reformation'' or Anglicanism, then there would have been no individual interpretation of the Bible and morality here, no rampant individualism, no secularization, no widespread acceptance of contraception, legalization of abortion, celebration of sodomy or deconstruction of Sunday into just another day for business, sport and leisure.
We can see where all of this leads in the recent case of the American street preachers who were arrested for allegedly offending Muslims in Britain.
As you will likely have read elsewhere, the British prosecutor Ian Jackson had the temerity to utter in court: ''To say that Jesus is the only God is not a matter of truth. To the extent that they are saying that the only way to God is through Jesus, that cannot be a truth.''
And whilst all of our UK bishops appear to have remained quiet in the face of this blasphemous suppression of Christian Truth, we can only reflect that this is merely the natural outcome of five disintegrating centuries of the corrosive influence of man-made Anglicanism.
Christopher Ferrara has rightly pointed out the offence this must all give to St. Peter himself.
As an Englishman, I can't help also thinking of the way it must similarly offend great martyrs like St. Ambrose Barlow, St. Edmund Arrowsmith, St. Edmund Campion, St. John Houghton and so many other of our Catholic cultural heroes.
To Archbishop Roche and Cardinal Pell we can only ask: Why would you offend God by hosting prayers from a heretical prayer book beneath the very Chair of St. Peter in Rome? Why would you not lead the sincere Anglicans into the One True Faith founded by Christ for the salvation and sanctification of all? Why would you deny them the knowledge, peace and unity of the Doctrine, Sacraments, Moral Life and Prayers of our holy mother the Catholic Church? Why can you not see that this will not lead to unity, but only to a never-ending cycle of religious indifferentism, social confusion and cultural disintegration?
I can only say that I am grateful that my parents and I were given the grace to discover Catholic Truth before you so scandalously obscured it for so many people.
The heading of this article is taken from St. John Bosco's series of prophetic visions of Rome's future.
It seems appropriate to conclude with his words: And you, Rome, what will become of you? Ungrateful Rome, effeminate Rome, arrogant Rome, you have reached the point where you admire in your Sovereign Pontiff nothing but luxury, forgetting that his true glory and yours are on Golgotha.