Saturday, 9 January 2010

No Ordinary Day

St Francis', Charminster Road, Bournemouth: preparing for Benediction.

Winchester Diocese has only four 'Resolution C' parishes - yet in the depths of the bitter cold, forty and more hardy souls turned out to talk about the Ordinariate. We began with Mass - in typical Anglican fashion, it was the Mass of the Day, Eucharistic Prayer 2 from the Daily Missal of the Western Church. A said mass, with hymns. All credit to Fr Berrett and the faithful of St Francis' to provide an organist, a small choir, and a couple of servers.

After Mass, Our Lady was invoked with the Angelus, and we proceeded to the Hall (beautifully warm) for a speech by Mr Toad, aka me. If you should want to hear my maunderings, they are available by a link from the parish website ..
There were soup and wine to complement our own picnic lunches, then we had over an hour of discussion. An ear infection rendered me more than usually dense, but the feeling of the meeting was incredibly positive. Some few are determined to stay in the CofE come what may, to fight to the bitter end. Most of us, though, seemed to think we had had enough of bitterness, and the end was more than nigh - indeed, that 'the game was up'. Everyone expressed gratitude to the Holy Father for his initiative, by-passing both Canterbury and the Catholic Hierarchy in England; though one catholic lady who came with an Anglican friend put up a spirited defence for "the southern bishops" who had come in for a certain amount of criticism.

We ended, again in our solid Anglican way, with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Now the parishes will themselves be considering the options, and listening to the Provincial Episcopal Visitors for the advice they give us after further meetings with the Catholic authorities. In all, today's was a very heartening event. We are very conscious that the Holy Spirit has heard our prayers down the years for Unity, and is giving us answers such as we could never have devised for ourselves. Thanks be to God for his unspeakable love.


  1. I am a Catholic priest who 'Poped' from the CofE long before discussions about Anglicanorum Coetibus etc. I am anxious about the apparent perception of so many traditional Anglicans of RC bishops. Where does all this anxiety and unkindness come from? I do not know of a RC bishop who has been anything but gracious in receiving and ordaining countless former Anglicans. I am glad that the lady at your meeting spoke out. I know that there will inevitably be much uncertainty about your future for all of you ... that goes without saying. But, for goodness sake, the bishops are good guys, wanting to help, generous, kind, thoughtful and very very understanding of your position. You need them on your side. Why are you all working so hard to make it more difficult for yourselves by cutting off your noses to spite your faces?

    By the way, I would counsel not waiting for Anglicanorum Coetibus to to come to anything. I suspect it will be entirely fruitless in England. I eventually realised that if I held out to the bitter end and waited for the CofE to become intolerable (or, indeed for that matter, for the RC Church to become perfect!) then I'd wait for ever and get nowhere.

    There's no time like the present. You know you want to ...

  2. Some of the "southern bishops" have, I understand, been a little unenthusiastic about welcoming former Anglican priests. I am very glad your experience, Maurice, has been so positive. When, years ago, Abp Couve de Murville was welcoming numbers into his arch- diocese of Birmingham one of the southern bishops told me he hoped not many would apply to him because he could not pay them and would not know what to do with them... hardly an enthbusiastic encouragement. I also have some friends, former Anglican priests, who are being kept in limbo (except that limbo no longer exists, of course.)
    Perhaps with the new Pope some bishops will change their tunes. I hope so.

  3. Hello again. Forgive me. I really don't want to start a long thread about this, but I feel your comments are not actually indicative of the experience of the majority. Justice requires ma (again, I'm afraid!) to say something.

    One awkward bishop making a sideways comment is hardly evidence to condemn them all. And, with respect for your office, I wonder if he said that to you as a co-professional in a discreet confidential aside, brother to brother, rather than for use in fanning flames of dissension. I don't know. I wasn't there ...

    Limbo. Hmmm. Do you really mean that - or do you mean that, sensibly, RC bishops are simply giving chaps time to 'settle down' as Catholics before rushing headlong into priesthood? The late great Basil Hume seemed to act rather too quickly and some of the former Anglicans whom he ordained will tell you in no uncertain terms that they needed more time (though they didn't think so at the time).

    I had to wait three years. At times it was painful - excruciatingly painful. But often it was a blessed relief to have time to pray, read, laugh and remember what it's like to be a lay person. In fact, I believe my experience as a Catholic priest is all the richer for those three years as a layman again. I now see those three years as a deeply profound time of reassessment, growth and rediscovery of priestly ministry.

    Discernment will, as you know better than me, take time and it's in everyone's interest that there are periods of waiting and watching. The whole experience of living in a presbytery, for example, is different; the culture in so many ways is different, the chaps are recovering from leaving behind a happy past .... it all takes time. I think it speaks of wisdom and grace rather than limbo.

    But, hey. What do I know?

    Happy Ordinary Time.

  4. By the way, I'm not sure what that bishop meant about paying them. Most dioceses work in such a way that the priest (either with or without a salary) is looked after, principally, by the parish. The exception here could be married chaps - but none of the dioceses are that short of money in reality. Let's face it, if they can't resource their clergy financially, then they'd better give up altogether! The married FACs in this diocese receive a salary, but are 'topped up' by enthusiastic parishioners who are only to happy to recognise what they do and to celebrate their priesthood.

    Enough. Time for a gin.

  5. Maurice, I am grateful for all you have said and take the point entirely about the need for time and patience... What you say about culture may be another version of patrimony? Oh, and I am glad you have not lost all your Anglican bad habits ... I've never felt myself a proper Anglo-Catholic, prefering single malt to Gin. Sorry, but there it is. +E