Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Catholics Joining the Ordinariate

Some press coverage has been given recently to a "clarification" given by Bishop Alan Hopes, an Auxiliary Bishop in the Diocese of Westminster and the episcopal delegate to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.  The story can be found here on the website of the Catholic Herald.

In fact, what Bishop Hopes said is not really a clarification on the subject of who can join the Ordinariate, it is more of a statement of the long-established facts.  This being said, his having brought this issue back into the public arena is useful and welcome, and gives non-Ordinariate Catholics who were formerly Anglicans a chance to express their support for the "outstanding achievements"** of the Holy Father in the field of Christian Unity, and for his appreciation of the value of the Anglican heritage, or Patrimony, that every former Anglican brings with him or her.

Article 5 of the Complementary Norms of Anglicanorum Coetibus states the following in respect of the laity. 
The lay faithful originally of the Anglican tradition who wish to belong to the Ordinariate, after having made their Profession of Faith and received the Sacraments of Initiation, with due regard for Canon 845, are to be entered in the apposite register of the Ordinariate. Those baptized previously as Catholics outside the Ordinariate are not ordinarily eligible for membership, unless they are members of a family belonging to the Ordinariate.
In short, this says that if you have come into the Catholic Church from the Anglican communion, whether through the Ordinariate or not, you may express your wish to belong to the Ordinariate and be entered in the register of the Ordinariate.   In practice the exclusion on baptized Catholics means that those who have been brought up in the Catholic Church are not eligible to join the Ordinariate, unless they have a family connection of some kind. 

Just as interestingly, Article 4 of the Complementary Norms provides for the Ordinary to incardinate into the Ordinariate not only members of the Ordinariate but also former Anglican clergy who are now in the Catholic Church (whether or not ordained as Catholic priests already) but who are not in the Ordinariate.
The Ordinary has the faculty to incardinate in the Ordinariate former Anglican ministers who have entered into full communion with the Catholic Church, as well as candidates belonging to the Ordinariate and promoted to Holy Orders by him.
Therefore Bishop Hopes could, should he wish to, and should Monsignor Newton agree, join the Ordinariate as a Bishop.  I'm sure we all know many very fine Catholic clergy who were once Anglican clergy and who are not in the Ordinariate, who, should they ever wish to, could do the same.  

That discussion leads on to the question posed by one of the commenters on the Catholic Herald piece mentioned above, being why a former Anglican who is happily installed in the Catholic Church but not in the Ordinariate would wish to join. 

Well, first of all, clearly there is absolutely no obligation on them to do so, nor any expectation whatsoever that they ought to.  It would be entirely a matter of personal choice, and no-one suggests otherwise. 

Second, I would suggest that that comment in particular reflects the ongoing obligation on all Ordinariate members, as mentioned by Monsignor Newton in his sermon at our recent Anniversary Solemn Evensong, Procession of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction, and indeed in this and also this recent blogpost of ours, to explain to non-Ordinariate Catholics what the Ordinariate is all about.

Beyond that, a former Anglican who is now a non-Ordinariate Catholic would be expressing their support for the Holy Father's initiative contained in the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, and expressing thanksgiving for the value that through it the Holy Father and the entire Catholic Church place on the Anglican Patrimony that all Anglicans joining the Catholic Church bring with them.  They would also be expressing their shared desire for the reunification of Christendom, particularly of Catholics and Anglicans, the path taken by Blessed John Henry Newman, by them, by Ordinariate members and by many others over the centuries.

Given that the Ordinariate is a full part of of the Catholic Church, their "worship life", as it were, would not need to change at all.  If they wished to participate in Ordinariate events, they would most certainly be welcome, as fellow members of this body of people dedicated to the goal of Unity.  However, they could continue to be together with their existing parishes.  Members of the Catholic Church are free to attend services held in, and to receive the Sacrament in, buildings/parishes run by Ordinariate clergy, Diocesan clergy, Oratorian clergy, Jesuit clergy, Servite clergy......

Nothing in this blogpost is intended to criticise former Anglicans who are now Catholics but not in the Ordinariate, most definitely not.  Our direct experience is that all the former Anglicans we know in the Catholic Church outside the Ordinariate have been hugely supportive of the Ordinariate, and we should certainly like to express now our gratitude to them for all they are doing and have done.

All we are saying here is that the Ordinariate is open to all former Anglicans in the Catholic Church, just as it is open to all Anglicans wishing to come into the full communion of the Catholic Church, even if for obvious reasons, most discussion usually focuses on the latter group rather than on the former.  However, all those who wish to bring those elements of our joint Anglican Patrimony that are consonant with the teachings of the Catholic Church into the spiritual armoury of the Catholic Church, and who wish to express their support and thanks for the Holy Father's wonderful initiative, are eligible to join.

Joining the Ordinariate, either as an incoming Anglican or as an existing Catholic is a simple way to express through your actions your being at one with Dom Lambert Beaudoin's wonderful 1925 concept of l'Eglise Anglicane Unie non Absorbée, unity without absorption. 

That final remark leads us to one small, but important, clarification of our own.  Not having seen the original text of Bishop Hopes's piece in The Newman, we are not sure if this is due to authorial shorthand of expression or to editorial amendment at either of The Newman or The Catholic Herald, but clearly the following extract is prone to misinterpretation.
As for the future, it may be God’s will that it should be the present structure, but maybe in 50 years’ time the ordinariate will become fully integrated into the Catholic Church. Who knows? We must wait and see.
I think I recall reading Monsignor Newton commenting on the same point, that no-one quite knows how the Ordinariate will look in 50 years from now, but the way it has appeared in the Catholic Herald's quotation of Bishop Hopes's article in The Newman could be subject to one of those wilful misinterpretations that can be found all too readily on the internet.

The Ordinariate very clearly is fully integrated into the Catholic Church.  That is an incontestable fact.  However, it has a structure that allows it to sit alongside and not inside the structure of the geographical dioceses in whose territory it operates.  For example, we in the Marylebone Group attend mass with our friends at St James's, who are members of a parish run by diocesan clergy, yet our Ordinary is Monsignor Newton whereas theirs is Archbishop Vincent Nichols.  What counts is that we are all in full communion with our Holy Father Pope Benedict, the Successor of St Peter, and that the shared heritage we now build together in the Catholic Church enjoys the benefits of both their Patrimony and ours.  That is a powerful practical expression of steps being made towards Unity.

**  From parish notes written by the Provost of the London Oratory, the text of which can be found (at the time of writing this blogpost) at this page.  The relevant extract is reproduced below :
Another of the Holy Father’s outstanding achievements is his inspiring work for Christian Unity in setting-up the Ordinariates for former Anglicans. What a brilliant way of cutting through the plethora of mealy-mouthed verbiage and foggy thinking that has characterized so much ecumenical activity in recent decades, verbiage and fogginess which may indeed have had the very best of intentions, but which nevertheless achieved so little in real terms.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Another Angle, and Another New Catholic

Since the celebrations on 15 January, when the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham marked its first year of existence with Solemn Evensong, Procession of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction at St James's Spanish Place, many of us have seen a good number of rather striking pictures of this fine church.

The set of pictures that can be found through this link are stunning, and as Fr Colven remarked in his Rector's Parish Notes for St James's last week, make the church seem even more beautiful and even larger than it is.  Fr Edwin Barnes has posted some photos taken from his vantage point at the front of church that night which are also very much worth looking at.  We still hope that we will be able to put up some further photos of the service itself, and of the reception that followed, and will keep you posted. 

There are some many other fine photos of St James's in circulation, including on the parish website and here in one of our previous blogposts (including some video footage).

Lovely as all of these pictures are, they all focus on the admittedly rather stunning chancel and on the main body of the church.  There are of course other parts of this fine building that merit a closer look, not least the very beautiful Lady Chapel. 

The church tour section of the parish website includes a short description of the Lady Chapel thus:

Described as being " without a peer in the land " the chapel contains a reredos of the highest artistic merit. Designed by J.F. Bentley, the architect of Westminster Cathedral, the delicately carved and gilded wood with its angels and their musical instruments, its vine plants and grapes, provided the perfect setting for the painting of the Immaculate Conception. This painting, a copy of the Murillo, was presented to the church by the Count de Torre Diaz. Beneath it the nine panels contain representations of outstanding Old Testament figures.

On the right of the entrance is a statue of St Anne bearing on her arm the Virgin Mother and Child. This wooden statue is 15th century German.
Earlier this week, as it were "live from St James's", we spotted some rather good pictures of the Lady Chapel at St James's being posted on Facebook by friend of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group, keen supporter of the Ordinariate, Knight of Malta and parishioner of St James's, Eoghain Murphy.  The photos were taken at a Mass on the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, one of the Masses held regularly by the Order of Malta (whose help was so gratefully received at the Ordinariate's recent anniversary celebrations) at St James's.  Many thanks to Eoghain for his kind permission to reproduce his pictures.

The Celebrant seen in the pictures is Fr David Irwin, one of the St James's parish clergy, who happens to be the former Vicar of the Anglican parish of St Andrew's Willesden.  By co-incidence, this week's parish notes at St James's announce the imminent reception of another former Vicar of St Andrew's Willesden into the Catholic Church :
Thursday of this week (2nd February) is the feast of the PRESENTATION of the Lord in the Temple, often known as CANDLEMASS. The usual Masses will be celebrated at 7.15am & 12.30pm, and the 6pm will be sung by the choir: candles will be blessed before each Mass (please gather at the back of the church beforehand). During the evening Mass a former Anglican priest will be received into the full communion of the Church: it will be a joy for us to welcome him.

Do please try to come along to support Scott Anderson as he joins the Catholic Church, and if you cannot, please do offer intercession for him, and for all those preparing to to join the Catholic Church in the next few months.

The Ordinariate has started well, and will continue to grow.  How blessed we all are to have as Holy Father a man such as Pope Benedict, whose vision for Unity and whose profound knowledge of Newman and of Anglo-Catholicism are helping us all to achieve such great things.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Christian Unity

So here we are.  The end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2012, we have come from the feast of the Chair of St Peter at Rome on the 18th to today's feast of the Conversion of St Paul.  The Holy Father will mark this by celebrating Solemn Vespers this afternoon (perhaps one year, when Rome and Canterbury finally reunite, it will be Solemn Evensong and Benediction).

The Ordinariate is, at its heart, about heeding the call to Unity that is expressed in the prayer of Our Lord on the night that he was betrayed that all might be one.  That is why Ordinariate blogs go on and on (and on) about how important Unity is.  Those of us who follow Ordinariate news on Facebook or Twitter have been kept very efficiently up to date with events in Rome this week for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (if you haven't signed up to follow Ordinariate news, then you can do so at #UKOrdinariate or http://on.fb.me/fZWBJ5).  Unity is a topic that Ordinariate members most definitely follow.

Pope Benedict XVI truly is, as we argued in a post last October, the Pope of Christian Unity.  In that blogpost, you can see a picture of the Holy Father walking side by side with Bartholomew the Ecumenical Patriarch, which surely points to progress in healing the greatest of the rifts in Christianity, something about which Blessed John Paul II was particularly passionate.  While we on these shores focus on the Ordinariate in certain circles, and while many of us, perhaps more so in Ireland and Scotland, focus on a Protestant vs Catholic divide, all this, even if desperately important (not least on a personal level to us Ordinariate members), is small in scale compared to the need to work for resolution to the millenium old divide between Catholicism and Orthodoxy.

It is sometimes tempting to think that if we in England had a wider of sense of international perspective, the Church of England's General Synod would not consider matters of Unity as being of so little importance.  It's too easy to say "We don't care what those awful Romans say, they'll come round in the end once they've understood that we are right, and anyway we prefer Orthodox spirituality".  Add a little bit of the English cultural undercurrent of suspicion towards Catholicism into the mix, and Synod's alacrity in forgetting about Unity is easily explained.

We have talked recently about the views of Metropolitan Hilarion (of the Russian Orthodox Church) on some of the developments in the Church of England.  Everything that General Synod does to move away from Unity, it does not only against Unity with Rome and the Church in the West, but also against Unity with the Orthodox.  The sole moves that General Synod seems to want to take towards Unity seem to be towards unity with a small band of like-minded national churches (the Porvoo Communion, for example), a process that bizarrely seems to be evolving into overtures from some connected to the US-based Polish National Catholic Church to disaffected members of the Church of England who cannot yet accept the idea of reunion with Rome (the PNCC has recently established a small presence in Norway and smaller ones in Germany and Italy).

Some people who in one breath will dismiss Mormonism will with the next happily state, without a hint of irony, that yes indeed the truth, the right way forward (in total contradiction to what has gone before) is being revealed to them and to them alone, leaving hundreds and hundreds of millions of other Christians (mostly the non-English speaking ones) in the dark.  Francis Wagstaffe is alive and well, and God is an Englishman.

Even if someone hates everything that Rome says and does (which is certainly not the attitude of faithful Anglo-Catholics remaining in the Church of England), they must surely concede that there can, quite simply, be no Christian Unity without Rome.   Through history, through tradition, through the Gospel appointment of St Peter and through his successors, Rome is at the heart of Christianity : it is the "rock from which we were hewn", as Anglo-Catholics have been so fond of saying.

Unity is important, vitally so.  Christianity should not be seeking new and exciting ways in which to hack itself apart: it should be seeking ways to increase mutual understanding and co-operation with a definite goal of reunion.  Ecumenism, in its now somewhat tarnished sense of everyone having a nice cup of tea and talking pleasantly to each other while pretending not to disagree, is not a bad thing of itself as long as all involved are well-intentioned, realistic and sincere : however, if it leads nowhere, and if it becomes less and less likely that it ever will lead anywhere, then serious thought needs to be given to whether it is in fact more of a distraction than something that serves any useful purpose.  True ecumenism, true moves towards unity, are always useful and are most certainly vital.  We must never abandon our attempts to work together and to reunite, but we must always ensure that our efforts are appropriately focused and directed.

As ever, Fr Colven's parish notes at St James's this week included a very apposite and interesting reflection on the theme of Unity and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.  Here it is :
Maria Gabriella Sagheddu was born on the island of Sardinia in 1914: though brought up in a Catholic atmosphere, she had no great desire for God until, at the age of eighteen, the death of a sister brought her a moment of conversion: life was literally turned around, and Maria began an intense life of prayer which led her to enter the Cistercian monastery at Grottoferrata just south of Rome in 1935. Around that time – mainly inspired by the efforts of Abbe Paul Couturier – religious houses throughout Europe were inspired with a new impetus to pray for the unity of Christians, and the community at Grottoferrata offered a novena for that intention. Sister Maria Gabriella felt called to offer her life for the cause of Christian unity and asked permission of her superiors to do so: on the very night that permission was granted, the young Cistercian (who until this moment had been vitally healthy) felt the first pains which indicated the onset of the tuberculosis from which she would die just eighteen months later. We hear much today about spiritual ecumenism – and here is an example of what his can mean. It is right that theologians and church leaders should talk and study together to find common ground and understand the history of our disunity, but all this effort is as nothing without praying hearts that really share the pain of Christ in his fractured Body.
The Cistercian community of which Blessed Maria Gabriella (so designated by Pope John Paul in 1983) was a member had forged strong links with a number of Anglican Benedictine houses in England, and this enclosed nun from Sardinia, who in all probability never met a Christian from another tradition, consecrated her life in a very definite way to draw Anglicans into the full unity of the Church. Perhaps the recent establishment of the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham for former Anglicans is, at least in part, due to Blessed Maria Gabriella’s intercession – it must certainly have rejoiced her heart to see the four hundred people who were here in Spanish Place last weekend to celebrate Solemn Evensong arranged by local members of the Ordinariate.
As Roman Catholics, during this annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (18th-24th January), we do have particular insights to offer. On the one hand, an older model of re-union (a sort of ecclesial federation based on an extended European Community model – famously satirised by Monsignor Ronald Knox) seems less and less viable, while our vision remains that of the Catechism when it says: “all are called to this Catholic unity of the People of God, and to it in different ways, belong, or are ordered, the Catholic faithful, others who believe in Christ and finally all mankind, called by God’s grace to salvation”.  Our understanding is that: “this Church constituted and organised as a society in the present world, subsists in the Catholic Church which is governed by the Successor of St Peter and by the bishops in communion with him”: If we sincerely believe that the fullness of Christianity "subsists" (is to be found existing) and the means to salvation – orthodox belief, nurtured by the sacraments, expressed in a life of charity – are offered  in a unique way within Catholic communion, then (and this in no way, denies their existence, to varying degrees, in other expressions of the Christian tradition) to borrow some words of Cardinal Herbert Vaughan: “of course we desire to convert all – especially our own countrymen – to the Catholic religion. Could it be otherwise?”
Unity means the Unity of all Christians, including Rome.  This is the cause of Catholic Unity that is celebrated on the Halifax Memorial on the wall at St Mary's Bourne Street, and it is this Unity that the Ordinariate is working to build.

Two final comments. 

First, apologies that I have completely failed to post a piece of music today.  I had tried to find a setting of Magnus Sanctus Paulus (perhaps the Palestrina), but I could not find a suitable youtube link.  I then intended to post Mendelssohn's How Lovely are the Messengers from Paulus but again drew a blank in both the English and the original German (Wie Lieblich sind die Boten) versions : the recordings I could find were either of not especially good performances, or were technically of poor quality.  There will be more music some time soon.

Second, we believe we have some more photos of last week's celebrations at St James's, marking the first anniversary of the Ordinariate's existence.  If we manage to track them down, we will post them on Flickr.  These photos include shots of the church but also of the reception afterwards.  In the meantime, if you go to this blogpost, you will find some links to other photos. 
O thou, who at thy Eucharist didst pray
that all thy Church might be for ever one,
grant us at every Eucharist to say
with longing heart and soul, "thy will be done."
O may we all one Bread, one Body be,
through this blest Sacrament of unity.

For all thy Church, O Lord, we intercede;
make thou our sad divisions soon to cease;
draw us the nearer each to each, we plead,
by drawing all to thee, O Prince of Peace;
thus may we all one Bread, one Body be,
through this blest Sacrament of unity.

We pray thee too for wanderers from thy fold;
O bring them back, good Shepherd of the sheep,
back to the faith which saints believed of old,
back to the Church which still that faith doth keep;
soon may we all one Bread, one Body be,
through this blest Sacrament of unity.

So, Lord, at length when sacraments shall cease,
may we be one with all thy Church above,
one with thy saints in one unbroken peace,
one with thy saints in one unbounded love;
more blessèd still, in peace and love to be
one with the Trinity in Unity.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Ordinariate Anniversary Evensong at St James's

"Happy Birthday" sang the gathered crowds at the reception that followed the service of Solemn Evensong, Procession of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction on Sunday night at St James's.  There was indeed a feeling of joy and celebration, and the exuberant and spontaneous (if arguably not totally successful) attempt to sing "Happy Birthday, Dear Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham" was proof of that.

One can certainly understand why.  The success of Sunday night exceeded all expectations. 

Earlier in the week, we made reference to the difficulty of planning for a service when we genuinely had no idea how many people would attend.  The number of orders of services printed was based solely on the number of gift aid envelopes we happened to have in stock (281).  The quantities of food and wine were decided on the basis of a guess that 200 of the 281 would come downstairs to the St James's Social Centre to join the reception, noting that Tesco on Marylebone High Street was moments away should the bar run dry and Monsignor Newton's powers to replicate the stock management practices at the Wedding at Cana not prove up to the task.

Setting up the sanctuary after the St James's 4pm parish mass, it was very clear to all involved that there were going to be far more people there than we had dared think possible.  Our estimations had gone from 100 in pessimistic moments to 300 in what we thought were wildly optimistic moments. 

In fact, there were close to 500 people present, filling up the central section of St James's, all the way from the altar rails to the back of church, with some considerable spillover into the side aisles.  Fr Colven, the Rector of St James's, watched proceedings from the triforium, and attempted to count the numbers present : he stopped counting sometime after 400, so our estimates seem to be about right.

The beautiful pictures in this Flickr set give some sense of the scale of the event, as well as of the beauty of the liturgy and of St James's church.  We intend to post some further pictures of the service, as well of the reception, later in the week. 

What was also wonderful was that the congregation was genuinely a mix of people, many Ordinariate members of course, but also a large number of Anglicans and a large number of non-Ordinariate Catholics.  In particular, we were delighted to see a good number of people from St James's who had come to learn more about the Ordinariate.  One of them had turned up at exactly 5pm expecting to be able to take her pick of seats, not being aware that attendance might be high : she said to me afterwards that on arrival it had felt almost like Christmas Eve, both in terms of the numbers and in terms of the sense of anticipation.

That the congregation was made up of these different groups, all coming together through the Ordinariate, was extremely pleasing.  How appropriate that this mix of people should gather to celebrate a movement that is at is heart built on a call to the unity for which Christ prayed on the night that He was betrayed.

We only wish that every one of those, whether Catholics or Anglicans, who do not yet understand the value or purpose of the Ordinariate could have been there to witness the occasion.  This truly was an example of Anglican Patrimony meeting Catholic practice, with the most pleasing results on both sides.  The wisdom of the Holy Father in launching Anglicanorum Coetibus was perfectly visible on Sunday night.

Monsignor Newton's sermon can be found here

Fr Edwin Barnes won the prize for being the first of the well-known bloggers to post on the subject of last night.  This is all the more impressive as he led a coach trip of Ordinariate members from Bournemouth and Salisbury to be with us, so it must have been a rather tiring day.  Here is his report, and I do hope Fr Barnes will not mind if we steal one of his photos to head up this blogpost. 

Another of his pictures, which he posted on the Anglo-Catholic blog, shows Mgr Newton in conversation in the sacristy with the Rector of St James's, Fr Christopher Colven, who kindly allowed us the use of his church and was extremely welcoming and patient with us at all times. 

Other internet reports are now starting to appear.  We note a very positive report on the well known blog A Reluctant Sinner, which has some kind words to say about how Sunday night, among other things, helped to explain to non-Ordinariate Catholics some of the gifts that the Ordinariate, with its Anglican Patrimony, brings with it into the Catholic Church. 

Fr Ed Tomlinson reports here

The Tablet has reported on the event here

The music was, as ever, of the very highest standard.  Thanks are due to Dr Terry Worroll (Director of Music) and Iestyn Evans (Organist) for their part in that, thanks also to the choir of St James's, who with Terry and Iestyn were pleased to have had the chance to sing a very different repertoire from their usual fare.  Many in the congregation commented on how nice it was to hear Anglican Chant being sung for the psalms, with the opportunity it gives the organ to show off its full tone palette.  Although everyone, of course, enjoyed the Introit being Parry's I was Glad, some seemed particularly to like the way that the grand musica anglicana finally gave way in the Tantum Ergo to the beautiful unaccompanied setting of that text by Déodat de Séverac, the perfect prelude to the Benediction that was to follow moments later.

Thanks are also due to John and Paul, of the St James's serving team, who helped us out not only by being acolytes, but by guiding us around the sacristy to make sure we could find all the things we needed.

The format of the liturgy will have been familiar to the many in the congregation who had in the past witnessed similar celebrations at St Mary's Bourne St, with a few variations in the order of Evensong so as to match the order approved by Rome for use in the Ordinariate.  The Procession of the Blessed Sacrament involved around 30 people, and managed to weave its way around church  in a very dignified manner, with the canopy being carried by Knights of Malta.  Working out the order of the procession when the man who wrote the rule book on such things was going to be present (Bishop Peter Elliott) was a daunting task, but I am happy to report that I heard no complaints.

One of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group commented to me that hearing the sacring bell sound in the distance as the procession continued, getting further away and moving round the church was immensely powerful.  This was the first time I had heard (well, it was me doing the ringing) a sacring bell being used in procession in a church on St James's scale, and I can quite imagine that the sound could have had quite an impressive effect as the procession moved around.

It was an honour to have Bishop Peter Elliott (the Holy See's Delegate for the Ordinariate being established in Australia) present, as it was to have His Excellency Fra' Duncan Gallie (Chancellor of the Grand Priory of England, Sovereign Military Order of Malta) and Monsignor John Armitage (Vicar-General, Diocese of Brentwood) there.  It was equally an honour for members of the Ordinariate to be present together with each other, with our Ordinary, Monsignor Newton, and with so many friends and supporters to mark this great day.

Thanks to Monsignor Newton for leading us through both Sunday night and the past year, to Fr Christopher Colven for his hospitality and forbearance, to Sister Catherine in the St James's Social Centre, to Fr Christopher Pearson for his inspired idea of holding an anniversary Evensong and Benediction, and to all those who helped out on the night (not least those from the London (South) Ordinariate Group, without whose fantastic help the reception would have been far harder work for those of us from the Marylebone Group).  This was a great team effort, and it is exactly in this spirit of joyful co-operation that all of us in the Ordinariate intend to carry on, following the Holy Father's call to follow Our Lord's prayer for Unity.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

A Perfect Setting

In much of the internet traffic we have spotted encouraging people to attend the Ordinariate's "first birthday party", taking the form of Solemn Evensong, Procession of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction at St James's, Spanish Place this Sunday (15th January) at 5pm, we have noted a good number of comments about how lovely St James's is.  You would hardly expect us to disagree: it is indeed a spectacular and most lovely place in which to attend mass. 

However, as those in the Ordinariate are by definition new Catholics, it is perfectly understandable that the "landmark" Catholic parish buildings in London are not as widely known to us as perhap the "shrine churches" of London Anglo-Catholicism are.  We are all still learning our way around (even those of us who attended mass at Catholic churches on more than a few occasions before joining the Ordinariate).  With that in mind, it seems a good idea to post a youtube video that shows the singing of the Veni Creator Spiritus at St James's on New Year's Day 2011. 

This footage shows very clearly the stunning sanctuary, and gives some idea of what awaits those of you who are planning to be with us in Central London on Sunday to share in this great occasion. 

You can find out much more about the history and architecture of St James's on the parish website, where there are also some rather good photos.  Fr Ed Tomlinson has also posted a good picture here, clearly taken from a similar position in church to the video included above. 

You will also find a couple of "exclusive to this blog" (well, taken by my shaky hand) photos in this blogpost on Remembrance Sunday, and in this blogpost on the subject of the parish procession on the Assumption.  High up on the right hand side of this blog's sidebar, there is a photo of St James's taken as we celebrated St James's day 2011 with the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Mennini, as Celebrant and Homilist.  Finally, for those who haven't seen the pictures already, a Christmas blogpost showed a couple of photos that I took of the external crib at St James's. 

There are many reasons why we hope that Sunday's celebration will be a momentous event, and why we hope that many people will be there to give thanks for the Holy Father's initiative in allowing the creation of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.  We also hope that there will be so many reasons encouraging you all to attend that none will be able to resist : the opportunity to celebrate and to give thanks; the opportunity to be among other Ordinariate friends; the opportunity to be among other Catholics and among Anglicans who wish the Ordinariate well; the opportunity to enjoy the fine Anglican Patrimony of Evensong; the opportunity to hear our Ordinary, Monsignor Newton, speak to us on this great day, and to see him give Benediction; the opportunity to hear a fine choir sing some fine music and.......... (hence the blogpost) the opportunity to do all the above in such a fine and inspirational building.

See you on Sunday.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Nearer and Nearer Draws the Time

And which time would that be, you may ask?  For the purposes of today's post, there are two times to which I refer.

The first, of course, is Sunday's anniversary Solemn Evensong, Procession of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction at St James's Spanish Place.  This is shaping up to be quite an event.  Fr Colven kindly included a notice about it in this week's parish notes at St James's, inviting parishioners to join us.  The relevant extract is below.
To mark the first anniversary of the setting up of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham (Pope Benedict’s initiative for Anglicans coming into full communion with the Catholic Church), there will be Solemn Evensong & Benediction here at Saint James’s at 5pm (note time) next Sunday 15th January – Monsignor Keith Newton will preside and Bishop Peter Elliott, the Holy See’s Delegate for the Ordinariate in Australia, will be there. Everyone is welcome to share in this example of Anglican patrimony!
Beyond that, we continue to pick up "internet chatter", as the security services say, on the subject.   We have already highlighted posts by Fr Ed Tomlinson and Fr Edwin Barnes about visitors coming to London from Tunbridge Wells, Salisbury and Bournemouth.  We have also now spotted a post by Fr Jeff Woolnough about people travelling in from Southend.  There is even an announcement on the website of the Scotland Ordinariate Groups.  All are welcome, not only Ordinariate members, but all Catholics and all Anglicans, indeed anyone who wishes to mark with joy and thanksgiving this first anniversary of the Ordinariate's existence.

A sterling job seems to have been done about spreading the word (see our earlier blogpost here).  Not only Deacon Daniel Lloyd's excellent poster (as reproduced once again, shamelessly, below) but also a mention in The Portal and a popular Facebook event.  Readers have "shared" messages that have been posted on the Marylebone Ordinariate Group's Facebook fansite on their own "walls", as well as sending emails containing links to our blogposts to their own friends.  For all this publicity, we thank you very sincerely.  Keep up the good work, and please don't relent until 4.59pm on Sunday.

The Facebook Event is intriguing.  Not everyone we know who has declared that they are coming has yet accepted on Facebook, but equally that demonstrates that a lot of people do not manage their diary via Facebook events.  Given that that is the case, we think that the number of people who have accepted on Facebook under-represents the proportion of those who have been invited via Facebook that will attend.  All this makes estimating the quantities of food and wine to purchase rather tricky.

The work associated with the preparations has been shared fairly around between us all in the Marylebone Ordinariate Group, and with Fr Christopher Pearson and Fr Christopher Colven helping and guiding us, we are hopeful that all of you who make the effort to attend will feel more than glad that you did.
  • A draft Order of Service has been prepared and awaits its imprimatur. 
  • Wine is arriving on Saturday to refresh the throats of those tired after so much singing.
  • The St James's choir is very much looking forward to the opportunity to sing from a repertoire that they don't get to sing very often at Spanish Place.  The Director of Music and the Organist, both former Anglicans themselves, are also very keen.
  • A serving team has been gathered and is shortly to be briefed.
  • Knights of Malta are at the ready to carry the canopy in procession.
Please continue to tell or to remind everyone you know about what is happening next Sunday at 5pm in St James's.  It promises to be an event to remember, and will demonstrate to everyone not just that the Ordinariate is alive and well, confident and keen to show potential joiners and all well wishers that those who join are delighted to have done so, but also that we are of sufficient scale, and sufficiently well organised, to mark our great days in this way.

So what is the other time that is drawing near?  I want to highlight a blogpost by Fr Ed Tomlinson from earlier today.  It picks up on a theme that has been circulating more and more in recent weeks, for example in Geoffrey Kirk's recent peerless article in New Directions (never has the case been argued more succinctly and more irrefutably), and indeed even here on this blog, in one of our most read posts Denial Ain't Just a River in Egypt.    The theme is that the time is coming for those Anglo-Catholics in the Church of England to face up to some tremendously difficult decisions.  We do not envy them this, leaving is never easy, and we offer our heartfelt prayers for all those who find this a very troubling time, yet for the detailed reasons set out by Geoffrey Kirk and by the inimitable and ever-forthright Fr Ed, they are being forced to arrive at the crossroads.  General Synod meets in a few weeks from now to vote on proposals that really would pull the rug out from under the feet of remaining claims of CofE catholicity: with this and with the upcoming second wave of Ordinariate joiners, it will be a difficult time for remaining faithful Anglo-Catholics.

In his post, Fr Ed explains why it is only natural that those of us in the Ordinariate should continue to be interested in and care about what is happening in our former home, and sets out his vision of the future for the various groups who would categorise themselves as Anglo-Catholics, or as being on the catholic wing of the Church of England.

We commend his whole blogpost to you.  It can be found here.  As a taster, here is Fr Ed's powerful conclusion.
I hope this post, which could do with more time to be written properly, presents the reasons I believe Ordinariate members not only have a right but a reason to debate with those left behind. Our hope is not to poach happy Anglicans – that would be rude- but to call to those people who rightfully belong in the Catholic church. And who could oppose such desire which springs from a concern for truth and spiritual welfare?

Doubtless though some readers will be angry. They will not like what I have written. I only ask this question. Is it because the analysis is wrong or because it touches a raw nerve? I have no desire to upset but surely we need clarity and honesty as we look to the future…

Perhaps it is time those who now lead the Anglo-Catholic movement to provide a coherent and convincing argument of why they claim to remain ‘Catholic’ having said no to the offer from Rome and having accepted the reality of life within a fast evolving synodically governed church?  Out of respect this needs be done without downplaying or dismissing the Ordinariate which is an initiative of the Holy Father himself.

If they cannot do this conviningly then it is surely time they were honest with their people. The Catholic option is the Ordinariate. The stay at home option is now, logic and honesty dictates, that of being- not Catholic- but congregational high church protestants within a liberalising body. I would dearly love an answer that is consistent with everything the Catholic movement of the C of E has said over the last half century. A movement which always looked to Rome and prayed for unity with Peter.
One thing that we hope and pray that Sunday will achieve is that we will be able to demonstrate that we are a happy and confident body of people, delighted with the decisions we have taken (as hard as they were) and without any regrets.  The Holy Father has offered the same welcome to all who wish it, a chance to bring treasured Anglican heritage and usually extremely "sound" catholic teaching with you into the full communion of the Catholic Church.  Let us all do our very best to make any Anglicans who attend on Sunday, and any who might read of the event, hear of it, or see photos of it, want to find out more about what makes us so happy with the path we have chosen.

See you on Sunday, DV.........

Friday, 6 January 2012

Three Kings From Persian Lands Afar

We couldn't let this great Solemnity go by without posting something, even if only to be able to include the well known Three Kings from Persian Lands afar by Peter Cornelius.  Although German in origin and widely performed in Catholic circles, this is surely one of the most well known staples of Anglican carol services, and one of those pieces of music that probably feels rather more like being Anglican Patrimony than it truly is. 

Our post last week containing O Holy Night in its original French version was popular, and therefore we would like to take the opportunity to follow the same approach with Three Kings by including the original German version, Drei Koenige.  I regret to say that, although in so many things I prefer the original language to English translations, here the English does seem preferable (perhaps simply as a result of familiarity).

There are many other pieces based on this German chorale, not least the Bach Cantata BWV1.  However, the Cornelius is a personal favourite and likely to remain so.

We note from Facebook that our friends at St Mary's Bourne St included the Cornelius motet in their celebration of today's festivities.  We hope that all went smoothly for them this evening, and that their visiting preacher, the Rt Revd Jonathan Baker (who was also present at one of the very last services at St Mary's attended by members of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group), enjoyed his time there today.  

In a post last week, we noted that St Mary's had introduced the Proclamation of the Nativity for their Christmas Eve celebrations in 2010.  They also introduced the Proclamation of the Date of Easter (with its haunting chant on the same tone as the Easter Exultet, prefiguring the events ahead) for Epiphany 2011.  We hope that this ancient chant had its usual powerful effect this year too. 

A most blessed Solemnity to you all.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

We have previously mentioned Dr William Oddie's reflections in his marvellous book The Roman Option that an Ordinariate in the UK might well have come about in the 1990s.  If he is right, and certainly his writing is very convincing, then perhaps that might have smoothed the Tiber crossing for some, but our feeling is more and more that the way things have worked out is by no means an inferior outcome. 

The turn of the year is a natural time for this kind of reflection (both the end of the liturgical year and the end of the calendar year), but so too is the upcoming first "birthday" of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.  Preparations for the great day continue, and we are pleased to note multiple blogposts by Fr Edwin Barnes and Fr Ed Tomlinson talking of plans for their groups to join us on the big day, and we can tell from acceptances being received on the Facebook event set up to advertise the 15th that people are putting the date in their diary.

Thinking of these anniversary celebrations has brought home just how much we feel that there is indeed something to celebrate, not just something to mark or to note, but in fact something that we truly feel like celebrating with joy and thanksgiving.  There have been adjustments to make of course, not least losing such frequent contact with many very good friends from St Mary's Bourne Street, but none of our little Ordinariate group feels the slightest regret at our decision to become Catholics. 

The timing of the birth of the Ordinariate was perfect for us.  Of course we sometimes wonder, with the great benefit of hindsight, how it was that we didn't make the leap earlier, but frankly it doesn't matter.  The Ordinariate came into existence at precisely the time when we felt that our situations were starting to become untenable : the huge sense of welcome present in Westminster Cathedral on 15 January 2011 (at the ordination as Catholic priests of our three monsignori) was precisely the right thing to set us on our way.

A truly excellent article by Geoffrey Kirk in the latest edition of New Directions, and brought to our attention by the Ordinariate Portal talks of why it is that those Anglo-Catholics still trying to live out the Catholic Faith in the Church of England might also consider that the solution that the Ordinariate provides has arrived at precisely the right time for them. 

In our previous post Denial Ain't Just a River in Egypt we talked about some of the same group of people that Geoffrey Kirk considered.  There are those who do not (or in some cases who wilfully refuse to) see the clear logic of the case Dr Kirk presents.  However, our thoughts should most of all be for those who find themselves very confused by what is happening around them, who see the difficulties facing their beloved Church of England, and yet who do not feel that the Catholic Church (whether through the Ordinariate or otherwise) is right for them at the moment.  Those people are in a very tricky situation, and they fully deserve our prayers and best wishes.  We can only hope that the joy with which we feel the anniversary of the Ordinariate's existence should be marked will be a sign to them that there is a solution, and that there are people who are more than willing to help show them the clear benefits of accepting it. 

For all this discussion of now being the right time for the Ordinariate, there are nonetheless those who continue to want to knock the Ordinariate.  In the same earlier blogpost we talked of various groups of people who are not yet sure of what the Ordinariate is about, and we acknowledged a continuing obligation on the part of all of us in the Ordinariate to explain ourselves to our fellow Catholics and to interested Anglicans.  However, we also talked of those who are not belittling the Ordinariate out of unfamiliarity or ignorance, but out of a deliberate desire to be dismissive. 

For example, there are those who argue that being made up of around 60 clergy and around 1000 laity makes the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham very small.  Another c.20 clergy and another c.200-300 laity entering the Ordinariate this year doesn't seem to cause them to change their opinion on this.  The idea that if the Church of England's General Synod goes the way that most expect it to in February, there might well be one or two more Ordinariate joiners seems to fall on equally deaf ears.  True, even the most ardent fan of the Ordinariate would have to concede that these figures are not Pentecostalist in scale, but you have to be pretty obstinate to argue that this is not a significant shift.   With the obvious exception of the years following 1992-1993, how many other times in living memory has there been a shift on this scale between the Church of England and the Catholic Church in this country, with the realistic hope of more to follow? 

Others criticise the Ordinariate for not being a single homogeneous entity, with disparities between its constituent groups (though it isn't easy to see how those in the Church of England can say such things with a straight face).  It is fair to say that the groups are in many varied situations, but it seems ludicrous to suggest that this is a sign of failure or insignificance. Some groups are smaller than others; most have their own masses while the members of other groups attend parish mass with their new Catholic brothers and sisters; some are geographically in a diocese which is more overtly supportive to the growth of the Ordinariate than others; there are more groups in the south than in the north.  Yet, to this list of differences, my response would be "So what?"  There is one thing that is far more important than all these differences, and that is that all those who have joined the Ordinariate have followed our convictions and have become Catholics, by means of a structure put in place by the Holy Father, specifically recognising that we do not join with nothing, that we have years of sound teaching, sound tradition and sound faith behind us, and that we might even have something useful to bring into the Catholic Church.

The time had come for us, just as it has for many ex-Anglicans over the centuries (not just in the period following 1992-1993), and just as it will for many others who wish to avail themselves of the provisions of Anglicanorum Coetibus and come into the full communion of the Catholic Church.  The Ordinariate was there to welcome us into the fold, and it behoves all of us to do our best to ensure that anyone else who might consider joining the Catholic Church is aware of the benefits that working towards Christian Unity by being a part of the Ordinariate might bring. 

The fruits of Anglicanorum Coetibus are not limited to this country.  This is no flash in the pan, no phenomenon that will drift away quietly after the first people joining the English Ordinariate have quietened down.  We would like to congratulate Fr Jeffrey Steenson on the announcement of his appointment as Ordinary of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, the Ordinariate that will welcome former Anglicans into the Catholic Church in North America, in the same way as the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham does here.  What an excellent name for this second Ordinariate formed under Anglicanorum Coetibus, with its link both to the relic enshrined so prominently at St Peter's in Rome and to the feast day that starts the annual Week of Christian Unity. 

The establishment of this North American Ordinariate is also a source of great joy, as will be the establishment of the Australian Ordinariate later this year. 

Let us all make every effort to display that sense of joy and thanksgiving by being present at St James's for Solemn Evensong, Procession of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction on the 15th January.  The time for the Ordinariate is indeed now, as is the time to celebrate its first year of existence, and the birth of sister Ordinariates in North America and Australia.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Spread the Word

A Happy New Year to all of our readers. 

January is often a slow month, painfully so.  However, the first January of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group's existence is far from slow.  Preparations for the Solemn Evensong and Benediction being held at St James's to mark the first "birthday" of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham are well underway, and as you might expect the workload will increase day by day until we finally reach the fifteenth.   Music, clergy, serving, wine/food, orders of service, publicity etc.  The largest challenge of course is estimating numbers, much of the rest flows from that. 

The enthusiasm of Fr Christopher Pearson and the extraordinarily helpful welcome, patience and accommodativeness of Fr Christopher Colven make life much easier in putting things together.  To both of them we say thank you. 

We have been very pleased to read of the plans being made by other Ordinariate groups around the country to join this great celebration.  Fr Edwin Barnes's excellent blog Ancient Richborough (to which we provide a permanent link on the right hand sidebar of this blog) has talked of people planning to travel to London from Bournemouth and Salisbury.  Fr Ed Tomlinson's Tunbridge Wells Ordinariate Group blog (to which we also provide a permanent link) mentions that he hopes that a group will travel in from Kent.

No-one can be sure of course until we see the numbers in church on the day, but the impression we have, from emails received and internet postings spotted, is that Ordinariate members seems to be very keen on there being an opportunity to get together to celebrate one year of the Ordinariate.  For many, there will of course be the extraordinarily happy memory of a visit to Westminster Cathedral on 15 January 2011, where we witnessed the ordination as Catholic priests of our three Monsignori, and were gather together in large numbers at the birth of something really quite extraordinary.  The atmosphere of hope, joy, welcome and indeed thanksgiving that day was astonishing.

One part of that will be the music.  There will be a selection of very rousing and mostly very well known treasures of Anglican cathedral evensong repertoire.  No doubt the ever-impressive St James's Spanish Place choir will turn in a excellent performance.   What a joy it will be to hear this music in our new Catholic setting. 

You can see what music has been chosen on the Facebook Event page for our celebrations.  You do not have to be signed up to Facebook to view this, but if you are and if you intend to come along, please do sign up to attend, and from there you will have the option to invite your own Facebook friends.  This is a fantastically easy and efficient way to spread the word about the 15th, so please do invite people you know through the Facebook system: if they have already been invited by someone else, Facebook will stop you inviting them a second time, so there is no need to worry about deluging your friends.

Indeed, more generally, do please tell all your friends about this event, and if you run a blog of your own, please do mention it there too.  This could be a great occasion, when we will have the chance to come together and express our joy at where the last year has brought us, and along with Catholics and Anglicans present, give thanks for this wonderful gift of the Holy Father to the cause of Christian Unity. 

You may wish to display a poster on your church noticeboard.  If so, you can find the very attractive poster designed by Deacon Daniel Lloyd of the Oxford Ordinariate Group below.  Decent A4 prints will result even from saving and printing this image.

Finally, you might find the article in this link interesting.  There, William Oddie talks about how some of the linguistic treasures of the Book of Common Prayer are being brought into the Catholic Church through the Ordinariate, particularly the newly Catholic service of Evensong and Benediction.  His article talks of earlier evensongs run by the Oxford Ordinariate Group, following Monsignor Burnham's pioneering work in sorting out a form of evensong approved for use in the Ordinariate. 

Don't forget : tell all your friends about the 15th.