In case you haven't yet read it, I recommend Fr. Phillips latest advice on the birthing of the Ordinariate in the United States. This is primarily targeted to those who have already paved as much of the way to corporate unity with Rome as possible, and now they are waiting for the other half of the bridge to be built from Rome's side. I know, because I am one of them.
And as one who has had the privilege of also being there with the birth of my child, I can relate completely to Father's analogy. But my approach on life is a little different. Like he described himself as having an "inordinate need for order," I am similar and on top of that, I am very goal oriented and possibly even "over idealistic" on top of that. I remember countless people - usually former Catholics - who've told me not to go to Rome with rose coloured glasses. Helping in various ways with this Ordinariate certainly helped me cast aside any glasses I might have worn that were even slightly tinted. The sinful side of people emerge in these sort of times, myself included. And this is why I am more excited and idealistic about the Ordinariate than ever!
With the birth of my own daughter, it all seems like a blur, and now I only remember crying tears of profound joy when she first met me. She simply coughed and started breathing and looking around the room with squinted eyes adjusting to the light in the hospital room. I vaguely remember that things weren't "great" before - even my saintly wife who bore the pain of childbirth, of course while remembering the pain, agrees that when our daughter was actually born, it quickly was surpassed with indescribable joy. Well, not quite indescribable, for one word comes to mind: fulfillment. This sort of joy exceeds simply "not being sad" or just being "normal," the word we commonly associate with those fleeting feelings is usually "happiness." But true fulfilling and lasting happiness, is joy.
On October 20, 2009, I was in my final year of seminary at Nashotah. I had fortunately gone to bed early that night because I received an email from Prof. Tighe that something huge was coming down from the Vatican the next morning regarding Anglicans. I had wanted to get up early, knowing that Wisconsin wasn't exactly on Rome or London time! I don't know if it was interest, excitement, curiosity or God, but something woke me up around 4:45am and I immediately remembered that something big was coming. So I checked my phone for emails, and I received a notice from a friend in England, now Deacon James Bradley, who was himself finishing his last year of seminary at St. Stephen's House, and he wanted to talk on skype as soon as possible. I ran downstairs to the computer, logged on skype, and rang him up. He and the now Deacon Daniel Lloyd had just checked the internet to find Anglicanorum coetibus published! I immediately pulled it up and started reading it while talking to him.
I only got to the second and third sentences of the opening before I started choking up and knew immediately this is what God was calling me to be a part of. It says, "The Apostolic See has responded favourably to such petitions. Indeed, the successor of Peter, mandated by the Lord Jesus to guarantee the unity of the episcopate and to preside over and safeguard the universal communion of all the Churches, could not fail to make available the means necessary to bring this holy desire to realization."
The joy I felt on October 20, 2009 was real and fulfilling. But it is only a part of the joy those of us who are forming the first wave into the Ordinariate will feel when we see our people making this a reality on the day they are corporately received into full communion with the Holy See and form the very first Ordinariate congregations! I don't cry at much, but there are certain things which I do and am proud to do so. When I first saw my wife walking down the aisle at our wedding, when Anglicanorum coetibus was announced, at the birth of my daughter, at my priestly ordination, and soon, at the reception of the people from St. Mary's and Bl. John's.
I share all of this because many who are not Catholics tend to view "Rome" as this big monolithic tyrannical corporation. It is not. "Rome" is real people like me who have their own stories also. People who come from all over the world and who have very different backgrounds. Deacons Bradley and Lloyd have their own stories, which I thank God have intersected with my own, and though we live on different continents, I count them as good friends. I look forward to the day, very soon, when we will be back in communion with each other again, and are working together for the good of the Ordinariates around the world!
Now that is how I choose to view all of this. Even if, God forbid, "Rome" decides I am not to be a priest or even a deacon in the Ordinariate, I still can go to my grave knowing that I've helped do my part in leading groups of Anglicans back into full communion and restoration with the visible head of the Church on earth. And I'm okay with that and will feel honored and humbled all of my life for being allowed this opportunity to serve Christ and the Church in this way. Yes, I would be disappointed and sad not to be able to be a priest, but it wouldn't be the end of the world. Why? Because of the true joy I have. I believe I am starting to only scratch at the surface of what St. Paul was getting at.
It is hard for younger generations to find enthusiasm and rise up and grab the baton for movements that are only recreating the old ecclesial mistakes, whether they be continuing within the CofE or the Continuing Anglican alphabet soup (of which ACNA is now a part). I've talked to countless who are stuck in these groups and movements both here in the States and in England and are now keeping quiet and their heads down, waiting for the day when they too can come into the Ordinariate - or, if they are priests, lead their congregation into the Ordinariate. Why? Because they see the substantial truth behind this kind of unity and they see the strength of the claims of "Rome" more clearly now precisely because of these groups and movements in which they have unfortunately found themselves due to politically compromising maneuvers by their elders. The ostrich mentality of the older generations leads to compromise and the younger generations seek authenticity, not another Anglican movement. We see straight through that sort of thing. Nobody is being fooled. It's not the fullness of truth.
Truth, while never easy to stand for, leads the one standing for it into true and lasting joy. This is the paradox of orthodoxy. This is the Catholic Church.