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.