Shrewsbury ... shall be a name 'as stirring to the heart as the glories we have lost'

Blessed John Henry Newman, 1852

Letters and Homilies

Homily at Pontifical High Mass on the occasion of the Foundation of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. Shrewsbury Cathedral, 10th February 2019

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and for ever”
(Heb. 13:8)

These words from the Letter to the Hebrews echo for us in the Cathedral Church of Shrewsbury as we celebrate a new foundation of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. At the heart of its mission will be to celebrate the Church’s Sacred Liturgy in the Extraordinary Form. Pope Benedict XVI reminded us that there can be no contradiction between the two forms of the Roman Rite. In a Letter to Bishops (7th July 2007), the Emeritus Pope wrote,

“What earlier generations held as sacred and great remains sacred and great for us, too”.

For at the heart of both forms of the Roman Rite is the same Jesus Christ, before whom we fall to our knees in wonder and recognition of His Sacrifice perpetuated in the Mass and His Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. We do so today in the usage of the Roman Rite as it was celebrated in this Cathedral for more than a century. In this way, we accept the invitation in the Letter to Hebrews to imitate the faith of those gone before us, to “Remember your leaders who preached the word of God to you; and as you reflect on the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith” (Heb. 13:7).
Among my earliest memories is of my mother patiently pointing her restless child toward the Altar and the Tabernacle, giving her gentle, maternal witness to the Real and Abiding Presence of Jesus Christ. Her efforts might remind how, through the beauty of the sacred rites, our Mother, the Church, tirelessly calls us – we who remain as restless children! – to this same recognition by which we can truly say, in the words of the Apostle Peter, “It is the Lord!” (Jn. 21:7). As she does so, the Church allows all Catholics to recognise in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite her one, unchanging faith.
We too share a renewed determination to “…preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer”, as the Emeritus Pope said (ibid). We thereby avoid the ultimate folly of losing sight of Jesus Christ Himself in one or other usage of the Roman Rite. On the contrary, Pope Benedict invited us to discover how “…the two forms of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching” for all of the faithful (ibid).
It is with this conviction, and with this same desire to turn all eyes to Our Lord Jesus Christ, that I have invited the Institute of Christ the King, the Sovereign Priest to establish a new foundation in Shrewsbury. It is a foundation that will provide for the pastoral care of the faithful attached to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite in this part of England. It is a foundation which will also form an integral part of the life and mission of this Cathedral Church. I am grateful to Monsignor Wach, the Prior General, for his generous response to my request; and to both Canon Smith and Abbé Ritchie who have come from the United States of America and the Republic of South Africa to serve this new mission.
Insofar as we keep our gaze fixed on Jesus Christ, the King and Sovereign Priest, who is “the same yesterday, today and for ever”, then the Lord will surely bless this initiative in all of the years to come. To the prayers of Our Lady, the Help of Christians, we entrust this mission and foundation.

+ Mark
Bishop of Shrewsbury

(Photos by Simon Caldwell)