19 June 2012

What does a name mean?

 Does "Personal Ordinariate of..." mean anything to anyone?  It tells us nothing.  I have suggested to many that each Ordinariate should place under its name -- rather like a motto or saying used in business  -- "Roman Catholics of the Anglican Patrimony".  Wouldn't that make sense?  If not that, something needs to be done, because "Personal Ordinariate" communicates nothing of who we are to those we hope to Evangelise nor does it help our Latin Rite brothers and sisters to place who we are and why we exist.  My friend Elspeth thinks that it should be as follows: 

The Personal Ordinariate of ...
Roman Catholics of the Anglican Patrimony
By Decree of Pope Benedict XVI


It has been suggested by the excellent Steven Cavanaugh of the Anglican Embers magazine that the name for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter came from the Octave for Christian Unity begun by Father Paul Wattson.  Of course, his guess could be precisely correct, and that would be absolutely wonderful.  But is it written anywhere that such is the reason?  Was anyone consulted in choosing the name?  When I ask, I get a different answer from each person.  When asked "Why were you named that?" do you know the authoritative answer to give?

A simple explanation on the Ordinariate website would clear that up.  Probably on his blog Steven Cavanaugh has already best explained the most positive rationale for such a name.  But please could someone explain the process by which the name was chosen and who collaborated in it?  I gather from some email I have received that I should go to the back of the bus, sit down, and shut up.  

I will flatly say that for me Our Lady is far more resonant than the Chair of St. Peter.  Since Anglicans rise up from those who destroyed Mary's Shrines, it seems a fitting act of reparation to name each Ordinariate after her in some fashion.  She is our Mother, and she is the Mother turned out of her own house in England.

So with Australia having the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross and the UK having the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, I suggest (firmly) that Our Lady of the Atonement (with the origin of devotion to Our Lady under that title coming from within the Episcopal Church and then entering the Catholic Church) is the most potent and powerful symbolical name we could have had in North America.  Such a name would have had the salutary effect of strengthening family ties with the Franciscans of the Atonement.  Would Canadians (not granted their own Ordinariate) have objected?  I think that highly unlikely.

Honestly, I could have been excited over the Personal Ordinariate of the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and it would have been manifestly evident why the name was chosen.  It is self-evident why the name was chosen for England and for Australia... but for the U.S.?  Nonetheless, the main question remains  about "collaboration"... who is invited to the dance...

By way of example, you could name an Ordinariate after the Holy Cross, and if there was some particularaly resonant connexion to the Holy Cross that had a national character and reason for being employed, then hurrah!  Is it not a missed opportunity if we fail to make a clear national connexion with each name for each new Ordinariate?  


I would also like to see new Ordinariate congregations be given names that draw from the great ancient saints of Britain and Ireland, from the Catholic Martyrs of the British Isles.  Is there anything wrong in naming a church after St. Ursula, St. Margaret Mary... No.  There is nothing wrong at all.  But isn't the point of Anglicanorum coetibus to bring back into the Church something distinctive of the Anglican experience and the British Church context out of which it arose?

For me if I were naming an Ordinariate congregation it would be Catholic Church of the Ugandan Martyrs.  With such a name you include St. Charles Lwanga and Archbishop Janani Luwum, the Catholic Martyrs and the Anglican Martyrs which Pope Paul VI commemorated at the canonisation mass for St. Charles Lwanga and Companions.  There is no other name like it that makes it possible to recall Anglican martrys along with the canonised Catholic martyrs.

These are my final thoughts on naming things and collaboration with the laity.  In Texas they say when you are riding a dead horse ... dismount.  And so I turn to other matters.

+Kyrie eleison imas.