Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Ordinariate and The Great Works

"What is the Ordinariate?" This is the question I am consistently asked especially by Catholics. As I attempt to answer such a question it has become clear that most Catholics are not aware of how the church has within it many different structures. As one gently explains this, one is confronted with a further question: "So why has an ordinariate been created for former Anglicans?" Another question is usually implied, "Why can't they join a diocese as Anglicans have been doing up until now?" A good question.

The truthful answer is that we are still discerning why. Those of us who have entered the Ordinariate responded to a call by the Holy Father through Anglicanorum Coetibus. The response was primarily an act of faith. We heard a call, trusted in the Holy Father, and responded to the call in faith.

However we are all trying to discern a more substantial answer to the question.

1. The first part of the answer flows from a desire for Christian unity. It seems to me that all those who have entered the Ordinariate have done so because of a desire for Christian Unity - the unity that Our Lord prayed for, which we believe is a visible unity that will be, by definition, obvious to the world.

It seems to me that while there is much we Catholics can learn from our Protestant brothers and sisters, what we should not learn from them is their ecclesiology (this is the study of what the church is). Protestant ecclesiology, of one form or another, rests upon an understanding of the church as being a spiritual unity that does not require visible unity. "It is only a man-made institution" is something I frequently hear regarding the visible church. The insight of Catholic ecclesiology is that the Church is both visible and invisible and derived of Christ our Lord, who in the Incarnation was both visible and invisible. She cannot accept that there is more than one visible Church, nor that she is merely an institution, because that would be trying to say there is more than one Christ! It also begins to imply that Christ's visible nature (i.e. His humanity) did not really matter. Orthodox Christianity has always rejected that notion. Jesus Christ's visible humanity is every bit as essential as His invisible divinity, because the unity of the two (without diminishing either) is critical to our salvation. In a nutshell: only God can save us, and He does so by uniting divinity with what needs to be saved, that is, our humanity. The name of Jesus means, God saves. And it is in the person of Christ that our salvation is brought about.

2. The second part of the answer flows from this visible unity, or the reason for the visible unity, if you like. "That all men may know that you are my disciples." Christians need to be visibly united, i.e. in one visible body/institution, because then she will be effective in her mission to the world.

So what we can call "The Great Works" of the Church is our obedient response to Our Lord's command. I believe that our response to the call for visible unity is also part of a desire to fulfil Our Lord's Great Commission.

The final word of the Risen Christ before His Ascension, is the Great Commission:

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19* Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20* teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."   Matthew 28 RSVCE

For the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham this means England, Wales & Scotland. Our dedication to Our Lady of Walsingham emphasises this. There is a prophecy that when England returns to Our Lady of Walsingham, Our Lady will return to England!

It seems to me therefore that in order for us to understand why the Ordinariate has been created for former Anglicans, we must realise that the structure has been created for missionary purposes in order to fulfil the The Great Works. This I think means we need to remember that whilst an ordinariate has some similarities (canonically it is a "particular church") to a diocese, it also has some similarity with a missionary order.

In the following video clip, Fr Andrew Small OMI (of the Pontifical Mission Societies of the USA) describes The Great Works as "to share the hope that saves; the person of Jesus Christ and His Church." Perhaps a mission statement for the Ordinariate?

These are things we need to ponder upon in our discernment especially during these early years.
Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.
Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us.
All saints and martyrs of England, pray for us.

Fr Ian Hellyer


O Mary, recall the solemn moment when Jesus, your divine Son, dying on the Cross, confided us to your maternal care. You are our Mother, we desire ever to remain your devout children. let us therefore feel the effects of your powerful intercession with Jesus Christ. make your Name again glorious in the shrine once renowned throughout England by your visits, favours, and many miracles.
Pray, O holy Mother of God, for the conversion of England, restoration of the sick, consolation for the afflicted, repentance of sinners, peace to the departed.
O blessed Mary, Mother of God, our Lady of Walsingham, intercede for us. Amen.
(formerly recited on Rosary Sunday every year after Mass)
O IMMACULATE Virgin Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, Mother of Grace, and Queen of the kingdom of thy Son, humbly kneeling before thee, we offer thee this country in which we live. It once was thine. Before it was robbed of the holy Faith all its children were thy children, and thou wast honoured throughout its length and breadth as its Protectress and its Queen. Again do we consecrate it to thee; again do we dedicate it as thine own Dowry. We offer our own hearts, that their love and service may ever grow and increase. We offer all our brethren those multitudes who know thee so little or know thee not at all. May thy prayer bring back the country’s ancient faith. May thy intercession lead us to a closer union with thy divine Son. We consecrate ourselves to Him through thee. Obtain for us, and for England thy Dowry, every grace and blessing, O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray.
O Holy Mother of God, Virgin ever blest, O Mary Immaculate, pray for us, intercede for us, disdain not to help us. For we are confident and know for certain that thou canst obtain all thou wiliest from thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, God Almighty, the King of ages, who liveth with the Father and the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever. Amen.

O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and our own most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon England, thy Dowry, and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee. Through thee it was that Jesus our Saviour and our Hope was given unto the world; and he hath given thee to us that we might hope still more. Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the Cross, O sorrowful Mother. Intercede for our separated English brethren, that they may be united with us in the one true Fold. Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith fruitful in good works, we may all deserve to see and praise God together with thee in our heavenly home. Amen.

DAY NINE (Eve of Pentecost)