27 June 2012

Chalice half-full or half-empty

On the English side of the Ordinariate developments we see Msgr. Burnham's forthcoming Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham with its clear vision that certain liturgical formularies are needed right now for the English Ordinariate instead of waiting for the liturgical Working Group to finish their slow and steady work.  Simply bringing something out into the light of day on behalf of the Ordinariates is a great gift.

Of course, the English context is very different from the USA.  One can forgive English commentators and others who think Americans like me want everything sprung full-form like Athena from the head of Zeus.  Nothing could be further from the truth. Nevertheless, we do want to see all of the Ordinariates moving together on liturgical matters instead of the usual Anglican "Each man to his own tent" mentality that governed the most recent liturgical books of the Anglican Communion.

People like me are grateful for every Anglican Use Mass, for each  liturgy from The Book of Divine Worship, and for every beautiful homily preached by the Ordinary and the other former Anglican clergy already within the Catholic Church as well as those newly arriving.  In fact, we celebrate each former Anglican lay person coming into the Church.  In the eyes of the Catholic Church all of those coming in are lay people regardless of what they might have been outside of the Church.  And what joy it was to see that the Holy Father intending to welcome into the diaconate in Christ and the priesthood those who had previously served as clergy outside of the Church.  Seeing this come to fruition is cause for one's cup to overflow with thanksgiving.

What some in the United Kingdom and elsewhere outwith the USA may not realise is that in the States some of us former Anglicans have been Roman Catholic for 25 years already quietly labouring in the vineyard to build temples worthy of God and a place of haven for those drawn to the reverence of our tradition.

To many it feels as though in some quarters 25 years of experience has been treated as if it does not exist.  Even if this is not substantially true, it is more than lamentable that such an appearance be given or that numbers of people should be made to feel this way.  

Yes, the training and the ordination of the priests coming in is a priority of capital importance.  But there already has been "a people in the Land" and they should have been consulted, celebrated and thanked.  And they should have been seen as collaborators in the gift of Anglicanorum coetibus rather than as issues to be adjudicated in secret.  When a person knows they have been reduced to an 'issue', the pain of it is enormous.  It violates the Christian conscience.  It wounds the soul.  One's life's work and their person seem to have been judged as not being of the same worth and value as those coming in 25 years later... what should one expect from people in such a painful situation?

The creation of the U.S. Ordinariate is not rocket science nor is it the Manhattan Project, but too many who have hoped to participate in its development have been shut out of its enormously secretive processes.  According to some there is little to no collaboration with the lay faithful or the current or past clergy of the Anglican Use parishes.  Why would this be?  I am at a loss to understand it, but then I do not understand the spirit of fear that seeks to keep people silent on all points lest the Holy See discontinue the project of Anglicanorum coetibus.  We would do better to focus on a Scriptural truth that perfect love casts out fear, and the love made manifest by Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI in Anglicanorum coetibus will not be turned.  Frankly, the spirit of fear of the future is a tool of manipulation straight from the nether regions that should be cast out at once.  

If you are labouring in the Church in a spirit of fear for the future, you have sorely misunderstood the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.  All of this secrecy around the genesis of the U.S. Ordinariate as well as the secrecy around the work of the international liturgical Working Group ... all of it is much like one would encounter in the company of the Freemasons. 

I am told that I am naïve about the Catholic Church and the way things work.  Praise God if I am.  Those who labour in the light have nothing to fear, and those who work in secret always succumb to needless fears.  Are we not all of the household of the Faith?  Did the Holy Father really expect us to toil in the shadows, under the radar, if not in blackout conditions and be afraid?  Come out from fear and anxiety into Christ's marvellous light.

The truth is that I am not naïve at all.  Because no one was interested in listening to me or letting me participate inside the new "inner sanctum", I am here on my blog doing what I as a layman must do under the teaching of Blessed Pope John Paul II in Christifidelis laici.  Those who know me know that I have the patience of Job having lived with great faith for years under debilitating illness that mostly kept me bed-ridden.  Those who know me are aware that I received a miraculous healing a little while after I had an experience of clinical death, a death through which I experienced the fulness of the Kingdom followed by an urgent need of returning to earth.  

I know what awaits those who labour in the Light for the Kingdom of heaven, and I know what awaits those who work for other purposes in the company of the Shining Darkness.  That is why it is so important to me that those working in the Ordinariate realise that they are being called by God to work out in the clear light of day and forsake everything that smacks of secrecy and secret groups working deliberately away from the gaze of the lay faithful.

It is a huge spiritual mistake not to prefer the light of Christ Jesus.  And if it seems that this simply cannot be done for reasons of privacy and sensitivity to this or that, it would have been better that the whole thing had not been begun.  No one is interested in taking my word for it, but one day you will all stand around the Throne and learn the truth of all that the Lord desired to do for us people of Anglican heritage and through us to bring a new chapter of His marvellous light into the way things are done within the Church.  It is not too late.

With regret I must also note that the chalice seems definitely half-empty for some of those who are Anglican Use Catholics of Hispanic ethnicity.  Too many were apparently told in private by people with no authority to do so that they could not be part of the Ordinariate even though for long years they laboured and served in the Anglican Use parishes  Then others were told they could not join unless they were a cradle Anglicans which was nonsense for the children who had been born and baptised in the Anglican Use Catholic parishes.  Whether or not any of this was actually true or not I do not know.   Again, the appearance of things can be more destructive than the thing itself.

I do know that the matter reached such a point of pain and contention at Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston that the Ordinary had to take to the pulpit and issue a most awkward invitation to all as a gift of the generosity of the local territorial bishop.  Everyone was very enthusiastic for Cardinal Di Nardo's guidance and leadership and the revelation that all members of Our Lady of Walsingham would be admitted to membership in the Ordinariate should they apply.  (Of course, it is obvious to the novice that the transfer of a parish to an Ordinariate by the Holy Father's decree meant the transfer of the whole congregation of the lay faithful -- as well as the buildings.)

What of Anglican Use parishioners elsewhere?  Is there one rule for Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston and a different rule for the other parishes and congregations?  To my knowledge no one has received any sort of notice that they have been received into the Ordinariate as lay faithful.  I would think it would be very easy to gather up willing lay volunteers to get such letters of welcome out, but then what do I know. I was only a parish priest in the Anglican Communion. ... It would be even easier to put a notice on the website inviting all of the Anglican Use parishioners to join... unless that is not what someone wants.
The whole "membership" process issue was one of a series of missteps that could have been avoided if there had been a collaboration with the laity of the Anglican Use parishes (which were all in Texas).  I must assume there was collaboration with the AU clergy because the notion that there wasn't is simply too awful to consider.  I see all of this secrecy and fearfulness and going about as though one were walking on eggshells to be a clear sign that something has been going horribly awry since the U.S. Ordinariate began to be developed.  Now is a good time for the Holy See to make it clear that no one is going to erase Anglicanorum coetibus or the Ordinariates and that Christ's lay faithful are as valued a part of this effort as ex-bishops and ex-ministers of the Anglican Churches.  

From the very start it would have been so easy to call for a General Conference with the giving of papers, presentations, discussion and working groups, and a rich welcome for the thoughts and ideas of all.  The complete absence of funding would not have rested solely upon the Ordinary but could have been shared with the laity who have the skills and desire to work such a problem to solution.

NB: I do thank God for the catechetical instruction that will come from the Anglican Use Society Meeting on the Call to the New Evanglization of Blessed Pope John Paul II.  One can hope that genuine missionary efforts and focus can arise from such a conference and find welcome in the Ordinariate.  (I hope they will remember that it is Our Lady of Guadalupe who is the Star of the New Evangelisation and see to it that her image is properly a part of any study of the New Evangelisation.)  Holding such a conference does not make one a missionary nor is the conference properly a missionary effort, but the catechetical importance is profound and is in concert with the Ordinary's gifts as a scholar and educator.

I don't think the chalice is half-empty. Neither do I find it half full.  We all hold  in common one exquisite Chalice of Anglican provenance filled with water right now that is, tears of sorrow and tears of Joy.  Oh that we could come together in the light of day and beg Our Master Jesus to come to us and help us!  To beg Him to transform the fresh water newly brought together with water of those already labouring in his Catholic fields... to entreat Him through the intercession of His Most Blessed Mother to transform those waters into the wine and oil of gladness by His all-gracious power and infinite Divine Mercy.

+Patrimonia Anglicana populus noster est.