With the frequency of negative attention towards the Ordinariates, some wonder whether there is a pro-Ordinariate blog still out there. Anglican Patrimony is unashamedly pro-Ordinariate. It always has been, and always will be. As difficult as times may be for those trying to enter the Ordinariates, or for those even within them, the Ordinariates are the way the Church has seen fit to bring about corporate unity of Anglicans and Catholics. Yes, there are challenges and difficulties involved, and many perhaps seem needless and self-inflicted, but we are here to make the best of what we're given - together. And doing it together, as a English Anglican priest once drilled into me, is the English way.
Will everyone see things the same way or agree all of the time? Will the leadership always be perfect? No, of course they won't. But working together to make progress in building the Ordinariates - which means working together to evangelize others with the Catholic faith and fortifying our own - is the purpose of bringing the Anglican patrimony back home into its proper ecclesial context. And as Father Phillips originally said to us well before all of this even started officially, the patrimony is the people.
The thing about the Ordinariates, is that for the most part we really aren't given anything. We must build it ourselves. Thankfully, many dioceses, pastors, and local bishops have given to us very generously. I must say that the Diocese of Orange in my own case is a fine example of this generosity, and Bl. John's in Orange County is slowly finding ways of cooperating more and more with the mission of the diocese and the wider Church in Southern California. It will take some years, I predict, before we begin to really look like a "normal" parish that most are used to, but if we don't try - and try together - it won't happen.
Construction Not Destruction
I personally believe cheerleading for the Ordinariates to be banal and unconvincing, and even bordering on being untruthful. However, the opposite is equally damaging. Constructive criticism should be the ideal, with emphasis being on constructive. We need to continually be building: ourselves, our communities and various aspects of the Ordinariate at large. If difficulties arise - for example if someone didn't follow procedure and even perhaps majorly erred - the solution is not to eagerly exact punishment and simply tear them down or close them off, but to help them make the best of the situation at hand. There's always some good that comes out of bad decisions. We need to look for it, salvage it, and further it rather than casting it aside because it was a by-product of a bad decision. This advice was given to me by clergy much older and wiser than myself, who were very successful in their ministries because of this forgiving approach. This is something that all of us - laity, lowly clergy, and official leadership - need to remember when dealing with each other and the ministries of the Ordinariate.
All of us in the Ordinariates are working hard to make the best of our respective situations - some of us have more resources than others. The leadership is under many constraints, depending on the situation, and most of the time are unable to disclose many important details that would otherwise help the public to better understand why they acted the way they did. Forming an opinion about someone requires all of us to step back and realize that we just do not know all of the background facts surrounding a particular situation; and even those few times where we might be in possession of information that shows someone made a bad choice - the right thing to do is to talk to that person privately and to offer to help them use what good came out of that bad decision for even greater good for themselves and the Ordinariate at large. This approach is much more preferable than making the entire Ordinariate suffer.
The key to all of this is charity. And charity requires open, frequent and clear communication, trust, and being willing to quickly forgive and move on - together, as a team. And it requires praying for our leaders and our leaders praying for us in return. We cannot make it without prayer. This attitude is exemplified by our present Holy Father very well. Think of how much time Pope Benedict XVI spends communicating to and praying for his people: his staff, the world's bishops, and the faithful at large. Pope John Paul II was another good example. But these men communicate not only directions and guidance, but also forgiveness and truth. And they make a conscious effort at doing it all the time, no doubt even when they wish to not. This is, in large part, what it means to be a leader. And the laity must have the same attitude to each other and in response to the leadership. We have a lot to learn in the Ordinariate about all of this, and I point the proverbial finger at myself first and foremost.
Where We Are Going Now
But this is not about placing blame, it's about all of us in our own ways waking up and taking note and moving on - together. No doubt mistakes have been made by all parties involved and will likely continue to be made, but unless we wish to allow Satan to defeat us and give creedence to our detractors who predict the failure of the Ordinariates, we need to keep brushing off the dust of our fallen comrades, help them back up, and press on - together. And when we find ourselves lacking in wisdom and making a bad decision, we'll find that they will be eager to treat us the same way.
We don't have to remain in this situation of the Ordinariate being perceived as uninteresting and uninspiring at best - or being petty and irrelevant at worse. The world needs to hear about the good things happening in the Ordinariate on the ground, for that is the reality for the most part. It is truly an exciting time to live!
I will be sharing the story of the things going on at the mission parish I am honored to serve, and I expect that other Ordinariate priests will contribute stories as well. This won't be a cheerleading session for the Ordinariates - I fully intend to be honest about the difficulties involved, but the difficulties will always be in light of the good we are trying to achieve.
If you have positive news to share on the ground of an Ordinariate community in your area, please send them to me (fatherbartus @ gmail . com) and I'll gladly share the good news.
And of your charity, please pray for our three Ordinaries and their leadership teams. The Holy Father has placed a large degree of trust in them and so should we; but they need our prayers and constant support.