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.........


  1. As a post '92 convert (former Anglican and current Catholic priest) I hope to join the celebrations next Sunday. However, I do wonder which piece of Anglican Patrimony is represented by the Knights of Malta... surely the Canopy should be carried by members of the CBS!

  2. Have you considered having the liturgy videotaped so that those that for various reasons cannot attend might have an idea of what Ordinariate worship looks and sounds like?


  3. A very fair question, but I'm glad to say that we have an answer!

    At least two of the Knights of Malta who are going to be involved are ex-Anglicans (like us, former members of the congregation of St Mary's Bourne St), and in fact the Order (which is well represented at Spanish Place) is very supportive of the Ordinariate.

  4. Victor, there will be one and possible two official photographers present. We have no doubt that more than a few other photos will appear on various blogs as well!

    In respect of video footage, there is no formal plan at the moment. Someone might take a minute or two of film here or there, but there isn't planned to be a proper/full recording of the entire event.

    Something for next time perhaps, as if this works out well, it might be decided to replicate it for other great days in the Ordinariate's year.