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, January 7, 2012

Fr. Catania of Mt Calvary, Baltimore on the Ordinariate

from the December newsletter Crux Fidelis of Mt. Calvary Church in Baltimore, Maryland

Dear Friends in Christ,

As we begin our second Advent since Mount Calvary’s watershed decision to enter full communion with the See of Peter, I had hoped I might at last be able to report both an agreement on a final property settlement with the Diocese of Maryland, and the date of our reception into the Catholic Church. Alas, I am not yet able to so, delayed as we are by factors beyond our control, mostly having to do with our protracted negotiations with the diocese. Sadly, it appears that there are some who would have this process extended indefinitely, perhaps with the hope that the people of Mount Calvary would simply disperse. But fortunately, there is also evidence there are those of goodwill amongst the leadership of the diocese who remain desirous of a gracious, amicable parting of ways, and I am cautiously optimistic that that mindset will prevail. Though we did not agree to a final settlement after six hours of mediation with Judge Joseph Kaplan on November 10, considerable progress was made, and I think it would be fair to say that the outlines of an agreement did emerge. I am hopeful that in the coming weeks, the details of that outline will be filled in, and a consensus will be reached. Then, once a settlement has been signed, a date can be set for our long-awaited reconciliation with Holy Mother Church.

Whatever the contents of that forthcoming settlement, it will inevitably entail sacrifice; after all, sacrifice is an inescapable component of the Christian life, as demonstrated by Our Lord Himself. Mount Calvary’s sacrifice for the sake of fulfilling the Holy Spirit’s call into full communion with the Catholic Church will undoubtedly be painful. But we mustn’t let that pain dissuade us from following the path which God has prepared for us. We must not allow an inordinate concern with secondary matters to cloud our vision of what Mount Calvary has the potential to become. It must be acknowledged, however, that there are serious financial factors which must be addressed. For far too long, we as a congregation have relied on the generosity of past generations to fund our ministry in the present. Regardless of the cost associated with a final property settlement, we will need to carefully consider our priorities as we look ahead. Furthermore, each of us must search within our hearts and determine whether our own personal stewardship adequately reflects both the needs of the parish and our own ability to give. Only by prayerfully reflecting on both our expenditures and our income will Mount Calvary be able to face the future on a sure fiscal footing.

And what of that future? For what has seemed like an eternity, the future has been shrouded in mystery, particularly with regard to the new structure within the Catholic Church which Pope Benedict has created for us, namely the Ordinariate. At last, that picture is becoming clearer. On November 15, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Holy See’s delegate for the implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus in the United States, announced that an American Ordinariate will be canonically established on January 1, 2012. You can read about the details of the Cardinal’s report in Fr. John Huntington’s fine summary on page 6. Suffice it say, this is very exciting news, for not only will the Ordinariate at last come into existence at that time, but the Ordinary (the priest or bishop who will be its leader) will also be named, and so we will finally know the identity of our soon-to-be Father in God. One of the most frustrating aspects of our common life since October 24, 2010 has been that our parish has effectively been without any pastoral oversight. This is, of course, contrary to the very nature of the Church, necessitated by unique circumstance though it has been. As soon as the Ordinary’s name is made known, I intend to contact him and seek his direction regarding the many questions which face us as an incoming parish of the Ordinariate. I am confident that whomever the Holy Father chooses to be our Ordinary, he will be a godly and wise pastor whom we can trust to lead us and all the members of the American Ordinariate to the fulfillment of Pope Benedict’s vision for this historic project.

Once again, I conclude by asking for your continued prayers for the clergy and people of Mount Calvary, as well as for all those preparing to enter the Ordinariate and for our future Ordinary. To be sure, many challenges remain before us, but in the words of Blessed John Henry Newman, “amidst the encircling gloom,” God will assuredly lead us into His “kindly Light.”

Your pastor and friend,

The Rev’d Jason Catania, Rector

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