Beginning with Christ: Oneness through the Mass
The Catholic Church was begun as a result of the mission of Christ to reconcile humanity back to God and to one another. His high priestly prayer was, “Father, I pray that they would be one, just as you and I are one” (John 17:21). As a result of this, the Church began to be called Catholic, beginning in 110 AD (see St. Ignatius Letter to the Smyrnaeans). The word Catholic means universal, that is the Church for everyone, for people of all kinds.
The greatest means of unity that Christ gave is what has become known as the Mass or the Eucharist, which was a combination of the Jewish synagogue tradition which focused on the written Word of God along with a new rite or New Covenant which was set in place by Christ that became known as the Eucharist or Holy Communion. It is through the Mass that Christians unite with Christ and one another and become one.
Middle Ages: Development of the English Language Catholic Tradition
As the Catholic Church spread it took on regional cultural elements. The Catholic tradition adapted by English speakers such as the Anglos, Saxons, Celts, and Scots used a form of the Mass known as the Rite of Sarum based out of Sarum Cathedral (which was located in what is now Salisbury, Wiltshire, in the United Kingdom), going back at least as far as the eleventh century. Then, because of the machinations of King Henry VIII, beginning in 1534 this Mass was torn away from the Catholic Church. In 1549 Archbishop Thomas Cranmer translated from Latin the Sarum Mass, for the English speaking people into a beautiful vernacular form that became known as the Book of Common Prayer. It is this form of the Mass that became sacred to English speakers and that which was used for the next five centuries. It would be these prayers that would form, nourish, and foster the desire for reunion with the Catholic Church.
“I take thee to my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us depart” – example of Thomas Cranmer liturgical translation from 1549
Recent history: Reuniting with the Catholic Church
Beginning in the 1970s groups of Anglicans began persistently petitionioning to come back into the Catholic Church as communities while retaining their Anglican patrimony, that is elements of their liturgical, musical, and pastoral heritage. Beginning in the 1980s the Vatican began allowing what became known as Anglican Use Catholic parishes to come into existence within the Catholic Church, then in 2009 Pope Benedict XVI promulgated a decree creating the framework for the Ordinariates, diocesan like structures that allowed Anglicans coming into the Church to retain and evangelize using their patrimony. In 2012 the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter was erected in the United States and Canada and now has over 40 missions and parishes and counting that have not only brought many into the Catholic Church, but have attracted and enriched the spirituality of many life-long Catholics.
Learn more about the Chair of St. Peter and the importance of the Papacy to members of the Ordinariate by listening to this homily given by Father Mayer. This talk is also available on the Saint James Jacksonville podcast
St. James: A new mission begins in Northeast Florida
The mission of St. James was established in 2012 when Fr. Nick Marziani, who previously served as an Episcopal priest, became Catholic and was ordained for Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter by the then Bishop of the Diocese of St. Augustine, Felipe Estévez. Fr. Nick led a small group of others who had come into the Catholic Church with him and he began to offer Mass for the community at St. Benedict the Moore, however the community struggled to grow. In 2019 Fr. Nick retired and Fr. Mayer was appointed as parochial administrator and asked by the Bishop to move the community up to Jacksonville in order to serve a larger population. The mission began meeting for Mass at the St. Joseph School Chapel with about a dozen people and amazingly began to grow, even amidst the difficult circumstances of the Corona Virus Pandemic. Because of the pandemic, the community of St. James was no longer able to use the school chapel and began meeting at the Mandarin Community Club in 2021.
The mission is currently in the process of gathering together the team of people who are laying the foundation for this rich patrimony within the Catholic Church to be able to serve generations to come. Like the beginning of most Catholic missions, St. James is currently meeting in a temporary space which is rented on Sunday mornings, while gathering people and funds to be able to purchase land and build a permanent Church. This process takes time, but the mission has been experiencing steady growth in Jacksonville and in the Lord’s perfect timing, the plan is to build a traditional English style gothic church in style similar to Our Lady of Walsingham, one of the more developed Ordinariate parishes.
The next step for St. James, prior to a land purchase and permanent building, is to move into a leased space, which would allow for a fuller offering of services to be provided to the people of Jacksonville: daily Mass, a place where anyone can come and pray with our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament day or night, more room for our burgeoning children’s ministry, space for classes and meetings and gatherings. To move into a leased space, we need to continue moving toward having an average Sunday attendance closer to 100, which would allow for the necessary financial support.