The first principle of the Ordinariate is then about Christian unity. St. Basil the Great, the Church’s greatest ecumenist, literally expended his life on the work of building bridges between orthodox brethren who shared a common faith, but who had become separated from one another in a Church badly fragmented by heresy and controversy. He taught that the work of Christian unity requires deliberate and ceaseless effort...St. Basil often talked with yearning about the archaia agape, the ancient love of the apostolic community, so rarely seen in the Church of his day. This love, he taught, is a visible sign that the Holy Spirit is indeed present and active, and it is absolutely essential for the health of the Church.

- Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Homily on the Occasion of his Formal Institution as Ordinary

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Finding balance within the Ordinariate

Thanks to Don Henri for pointing out the post below in a comment on St. Joseph of Arimathea in Indiana. This comes from Fr. Ed Tomlinson's blog:
Whenever something new comes along it takes time time for things to settle and find their equilibrium. The new car is returned to the garage for a tweak to the engine. New software requires a patch before it works smoothly. The same is true for Ordinariates!

We who have formed the first groups of former Anglicans reconciled to full communion with the Holy See are in our infancy. We are therefore still working out the delicate balance- seeking that equilibrium between maintaining our unique patrimony/ distinctive character whilst settling into the wider family we have joined as equal members.

Focus too heavily on Anglican patrimony, that which makes us distinct, and we could so easily create a ghetto. An inward looking backwater away from mainstream life. This would be a disaster for we would not then witness to the unity at the heart of the Ordinariate vision. Thank God that there is no evidence of this happening at this time!

But forget that patrimony altogether and the reason for our existence dies. The purpose of our entering as groups not individuals is negated. It may be tempting to go native – after all the Catholic church is a comfortable place for us - but we must resist. Slipping away into the wider body, either as individuals or as groups, does not help the cause!

And that is the point. We have been called as groups to fulfil a visionary purpose. The Pope is asking us to witness to something which he passionately believes is important for the future. So out of fidelity to him we must not vanish into long grass. A one off experiment ushering in but one generation of Anglicans. No - the door which this Pope has built must be kept open for future generations. A witness to Catholic hope for the conversion of England and end to reformation divide...

There's a good bit more to read, so do head over to take a look.

Fr. Tomlinson may find that there is in fact a growing attachment for the Book of Divine Worship liturgy among his congregants and other visitors. At my parish in Boston, visitors are uniformly awed at the beauty of the service, even with our small choir and congregation to lead the singing. We all know that there are some sections in the BDW liturgy that need improvement (especially the offertory, which, lacking a good Anglican antecedent relies on the Novus Ordo rite, whereas the Tridentine rite would have been a better fit), but overall, the language and rhythm of the BDW liturgy is beautiful and provides worshippers with fitting language and ritual to give praise to the Lord and to offer up the great mystery of the Lord's sacrifice.


  1. from our Ordinariate Expats blog:

    I’m afraid I must disagree with Fr. Ed’s basic premise, which is that the Ordinary form of the Roman Rite is in some way “normative” for the Anglican Use Ordinariates, parishes or groups.

    Anglicanorum Coetibus makes it clear that Ordinariate priests are permitted to celebrate according to the Roman Rite, (the document refers specifically to not “excluding” Roman Rite celebrations) but I believe it is evident, at least between the lines, that these Roman Rite (i.e. Ordinary form or Extraordinary form) celebrations are to be the exception rather than the norm. (Msgr. Steenson also made this very clear in his update on the US Ordinariate below.)

    I do not share his fear that there is an acute danger of focusing “too heavily” on the Anglican patrimony and thus finding oneself in an “inward-looking backwater” or “ghetto”. On the contrary, as he later correctly notes, the Ordinariates have a specific task attributed them by the Holy Father, namely to bring elements of the Anglican patrimony (liturgical, spiritual, pastoral) into the Catholic Church (cf. Lumen Gentium 8, quoted in the AC preamble: “… many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside her (the Roman Catholic Church’s) visible confines. Since these are gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, they are forces impelling towards Catholic unity”). The intention is not merely to make ex-Anglican Catholics feel more comfortable in the Catholic Church but rather:
    ■ to make the diversity and inclusiveness of the Catholic Church more evident, which is not merely the Roman Rite. Church Unity is not an “ecumenism of return”;
    ■ to open the Church for the positive reforms, new visions on liturgical, spiritual and pastoral questions which have legitimately developed in the churches of the Reformation, specifically the Anglican Church in this case.

    This is an important ecumenical task, demonstrating clearly that church unity will not and should not neglect the “faith history” of the individual Christian or community of Christians, so long as these are compatible with the Catholic and Apostolic faith. (“ecumenism of return” and “faith history” are Pope Benedict’s own terms!! – cf. his ecumenical address in Cologne, 2005)

    Fr. Ed notes that the Ordinariates groups are still in their infancy. I do not believe that they are in danger of dying a “cot death” by being too Anglo-Catholic, but rather by being submerged and swallowed up in what he calls the “mainstream”.

    How can this be avoided?

    1. by finding their own distinct places of worship as soon as possible (redundant churches, convent chapels, university chaplaincies, even church halls or other meeting rooms which can be imaginatively transformed into dignified worship spaces) – the least advantageous situation is having to share a diocesan parish church long-term;
    2. if this is not possible, then by having distinctive different service times and even service locations within the church building - one Ordinariate group in the US which I am aware of uses a side chapel within a larger church;
    3. and of course by celebrating as a norm their own specific liturgical tradition.

    Fr. Ed’s own situation is demanding to say the least. He has, like some other Ordinariate priests, been appointed simultaneously priest in charge of a diocesan parish and chaplain of an Ordinariate group using the same church premises. He is called on to juggle these two positions and remain just to each of the two communities. He will naturally only celebrate one Midnight Mass at Christmas, one Palm Sunday or Corpus Christi procession, one Easter Triduum. Does he alternate from year to year between the Ordinary form and the Anglican Use, or merely subsume the Ordinariate community into the wider parish?

    In his person Father Ed is a fine example of the unity of Ordinariate and Diocese, of Roman Rite and Anglican Use. But his can surely not be an example for the Ordinariate as a whole to follow!

    David Murphy

    1. I very much approve of the idea - which is being followed in Southwark, Brentwood and other dioceses of an ordinariate priest been appointed to the case of souls in a diocesan parish at the same time as he ministers to an Ordinariate group. It is a sensible use of resources in the service of the whole church. As Father Ed notes on his blog, the solution adopted has made a parish which was not solvent a viable entity. One can have several masses avalailable to all on the same day using different rites. In other churches, this has meant the continued availability of Sunday Mass (in whatever form) where otherwise it would not be available at all. And if this means that those who are "cradle Catholics" also learn and grow to love some of the elements of Anglican usage, that is a very good thing too.

      David should remember that the vast majority of UK Anglo-Catholics were not using the BCP. Their services were pretty well indistinguishable from those of their local Catholic Church - so much so that tourists often thought they had attended Mass in a Catholic church. If anything, Ordinriate Groups need to rediscover a distinctively Anglican liturgy and that ought not to be the BDW in its present form where the language of the Canon is a jarring insertion into the language of the remainder. Hopefully the Ordinariate rite will not be too long in its gestation.

      What is a welcome development is the public celebration of the Office in the Churches. That was something advocated by Vatican II - but it never really caught on in diocesan churches. Ordinariate priests are helping to make that a reality.

      Rather than think of the Ordinariate groups as separate communities - think rather of them as yeast in a baking process helping the whole community of the One Chuch rise to a fuller potential.