Saturday, July 9, 2016

Our Lady of the Atonement & St. Agilof

Information on Our Lady of the Atonement has been taken from the website of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, as well as The Anglo-Catholic blog.

Fr Paul Wattson and an Episcopal nun named Mother Lurana founded a group of Franciscan Friars, all with the hope of reuniting with the Catholic Church.

Fr. Wattson, after celebrating the Episcopal Eucharistic service, knelt down in front of the altar and opened the Scriptures three times. The first passage was from the Gospel of St. John, where Jesus taught that the Holy Spirit must spring up in those who believe, like a well of Living Water (Jn 7:37-39). The second passage he read was from St. Paul's letter to the Romans (5:11) where he wrote: "... we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement." The third passage he turned to was St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, where he recalled the institution of the Eucharist (1 Cor 23-26). He took these passages to be God's way of telling him to found a religious order that would have the Holy Spirit as its guide, that their preaching should be about the atonement of mankind, and that the central way of obtaining grace for the atonement was through the Eucharist.

It took years and stops at several parishes before Fr. Wattson would come to Graymoor, NY where he and Mother Lurana would found the Society of the Atonement, a group of Franciscan friars within the Episcopal church. They all knew that the Lord wanted Christians to be one (Jn 17:21) and believed it was only a matter of time before they became united with the Catholic Church. Back in those days, this was a step that involved a lot of challenges - the Episcopalians in their lives rejected them, and the Catholics viewed them with suspicion. They wanted God's will to be done, though, and they became united to the Catholic Church on October 30, 1909 - October 30 is the day before what is commonly referred to by many Protestants as "Reformation Day".

The painting of Our Lady in their chapel portrays her wearing a red mantle, symbolizing the Lord's Precious Blood, of which she was the source (since he took his flesh from Mary); she wears a blue inner tunic and holds the Baby Jesus, who holds the cross, the symbol of mankind's atonement. Through this title, Our Lady is seen as Our Lady of Christian Unity. Fr Wattson, seeing Mary as the Mother of All the Baptized, wrote: "When we, therefore, give to our Blessed Mother the title of Our Lady of the Atonement we mean: Our Lady of Unity. As she sits enthroned, as the great wonder of heaven, wearing a crown of twelve stars, clothed with the sun, the moon her footstool, she presents to the universe the highest possible approach of a creature to intimate and exalted union with God. She is at one and the same time the most perfect and the most beloved Daughter of God the Father; she is the Mother of God the Son, and she is the spouse of God the Holy Spirit."

The Anglican Ordinariate has adopted this feast into its calendar, marking the first time that a Protestant-created Marian feast has appeared on the Catholic calendar, a testament to the Church's commitment to Christian unity. As the Second Vatican Council's decree on Christian Unity states: "Catholics must gladly acknowledge and esteem the truly Christian endowments from our common heritage which are to be found among our separated brethren...Nor should we forget that anything wrought by the grace of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of our separated brethren can be a help to our own edification. Whatever is truly Christian is never contrary to what genuinely belongs to the faith; indeed, it can always bring a deeper realization of the mystery of Christ and the Church." The Anglican Ordinariate is often seen as a concrete example of what Christian Unity will look like - what has often been said is "reunion, not absorption" - Protestants have become Catholic, but many of our liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions have been "re-baptized" as Catholic, to be, as Pope Benedict XVI said, "a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared."

May we all be one as Jesus Christ prayed, and may Our Lady gently guide us all into a true and lasting unity. As Fr. Wattson wrote, "We must understand by virtue of our new birth into the Kingdom of God that the Blessed Virgin is our real mother and not merely a mother that has just adopted us. By baptism we are incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ and by that process of incorporation we are also brought into relationship with the Blessed Virgin, which is intrinsically similar to the relationship which Christ has to the Blessed Virgin as his mother. The Blessed Virgin is not our stepmother. She is our real mother..."


St. Agilof was a bishop in Cologne, Germany. Although the circumstances of his death are not clearly documented, he is believed to be a martyr (d. 770). He is entombed in the Cathedral of Cologne. Agilof was largely ignored for many years, but recently has been venerated once again. Agilof’s feast day is July 9. His designation as a saint precedes the practice of canonization by the Pope.