Friday, 30 March 2012

Don't Misunderstand

Somehow, an important part of the Ordinariate's message isn't getting through.  A lack of awareness of an important part of what makes the creation of the Ordinariate such an important gesture is causing the usual internet forums to get unnecessarily excited. 

Therefore, it's time to provide a little explanation, in a purely personal capacity of course, on a topic that seems to get people very wound up indeed.

The issue relates to what Ordinariate members think they were doing when they were still Anglicans.  Do they consider they were involved in high pantomime rather than in devout worship?  Do the newly minted Catholic priests consider that they were play acting when they were in the Church of England?  Once people reached a decision to join the Ordinariate, why did they not just leave overnight rather than announce an exit and then have various forms of farewells (including liturgical farewells) some time later?

Some of these points are raised in an understandable if misplaced kind of defensive anger ("Their leaving inherently criticises me and my decision to stay"), and some are raised as an argument against joining the Ordinariate at all (usually by those without any other argument, as if questions about the decisions of others who have joined the Ordinariate outweigh the wider rationale for doing so).  Nonetheless, if people still ask these questions, it is because we have failed to convey the full message behind the invitation that is inherent in Anglicanorum Coetibus.  Whatever the motives behind people repeating these questions, they are fair questions, and deserve an answer.

Speaking from personal experience, all members of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group can confirm that new members of the Ordinariate are not asked to state that their previous church and sacramental life was pointless.  No-one is asked to sign Apostolicae Curae with some kind of addendum stating that questions and answers in the 1890s relate to the position today.  What does happen is that in prayer we give thanks for all that has gone before, for all that has led us to this point, and for all those who have led us to this point.

One of the texts that has taken many members of the Ordinariate, and indeed many other former Anglicans who have joined the Catholic Church, over the line is Newman's Apologia.  Anglo-Catholics past and present will know that they would jokingly advise each other against reading it, "....because you know what will happen if you do."  This extract from the May 1843 section of the Apologia speaks powerfully to concerns that people are asked to deny their previous life.
At present I fear, as far as I can analyze my own convictions, I consider the Roman Catholic Communion to be the Church of the Apostles, and that what grace is among us (which, through God's mercy, is not little) is extraordinary, and from the overflowings of His dispensation.  I am very far more sure that England is in schism than that the Roman additions to the Primitive Creed may not be developments, arising out of a keen and vivid realizing of the Divine Depositum of Faith.
Newman is saying that in the Church of England there is "not little" grace in his Anglican life.  He is saying the precise opposite of what some people, for one reason and another, speculate would be required of them to say if they ever joined the Catholic Church. 

How very apt that this Newman extract was also cited by Fr Aidan Nichols OP (whose understanding of Anglo-Catholicism is beyond question) in his homily at the "first mass" of Monsignor Andrew Burnham (the inverted commas were used by the Oxford Oratory, they are not my addition).  Fr Nichols made a reference to Newman saying that there was "not little grace" in the Church of England, and referred to Mgr Burnham as Bishop Andrew - so like Fr Nichols and Mgr Burnham, no Ordinariate member regards joining the Ordinariate as a rejection or as a negation of anything they have done, rather, to paraphrase Fr Nichols again, this time from his homily at the deaconing of Mgrs Newton, Broadhurst and Burnham, a "quiet rectification" of their position.

How is this reflected in practice?  Well, before being chrismated, as one would expect, new members of the Ordinariate are asked to make their confession.  Technically, it is a first confession, and so takes the form of a general confession.  However, this approach in fact allows respect to be shown for all the confessions a new Ordinariate member will previously have made, and for the Anglican priests who heard them : it means no-one is asked to list specifically, item by item, sins that might already have been confessed to an Anglican priest. 

In terms of the wider approach to becoming an Ordinariate member, away from the purely sacramental aspects (as important as they are), the approach is very much that the Church knows that new Ordinariate members are unlikely to need the same introduction to the Faith as a brand new convert.  Therefore, rather than simply putting Ordinariate arrivals in with the nearest RCIA class, discussions are held and a tailored programme of catechesis can be constructed, usually by the Anglican priest leading the group, that being the person most likely to know what has been preached and taught to the group in recent years.

In terms of the question of the chrismation / the reception / the confirmation, I think that lay people take the same approach as priests take when looking at the question of ordination.  The confirmation I had when an Anglican bishop lay his hands upon my head (and, by the way, conveyed to me, so he claimed, a short message from above) suited me perfectly for my existence in the Church of England.  When Mgr Newton chrismated me along with the other members of the group last year, we became beyond any shadow of a doubt full members of the Catholic Church, in communion with the Successor of St Peter, and with all other members of the Catholic Church: whatever else had happened at our Anglican confirmations, it was not that. 

The topic of ordination is a difficult one for a layman to comment on.  However, my understanding is that the very same approach is taken.  Some Catholic bishops ordaining former Anglican clergy encourage them to mark the date of their ordination as Anglican priests as their anniversary of ordination, and to mark the date of their being ordained as Catholic priests as the date when, quite simply, they became priests in the Catholic Church.  The ordination service, just as it has since the 1990s, includes a special prayer of thanksgiving for the clergyman's previous ministry in the Church of England.  Incoming clergy are not sent off to seminary for years before being set free, they operate at once, with a tailored programme of ongoing formation.

So there is no denial that God's grace operated in and for Ordinariate clergy and laity during their Anglican years.  What there is, is a strong desire to bring those gifts into the Catholic Church, that "all might be one".

Despite all the above, some continue to cry "Apostolicae Curae, Apostolicae Curae".  Not just ultra-zealous traditionalist Catholics who might make even the SSPX blush (NB, even Bishop Fellay, Superior General of the SSPX, thinks bringing Anglicans into unity with Rome is a wonderful thing and does not join that particular refrain), but also there are some Anglicans whom one might have thought would be keen on Christian Unity, who prefer to hide behind a wound alleged to have been caused by Apostolicae Curae.

To use Apostolicae Curae as a reason not to join the Ordinariate is to understand neither Apostolicae Curae nor the Ordinariate.  The Church of England countered Apostolicae Curae with Saepius Officio, but more importantly took steps to resolve the issues raised by Apostolicae Curae by implementing the "Dutch Touch", and through that mechanism and some good record keeping, it was possible for Monsignor Graham Leonard to be ordained conditionally.  So the Church of England itself clearly thought that there were things it could change in order to render Apostolicae Curae itself null and void in respect of the future.

Would the answer to the questions raised in Apostolicae Curae be the same if they were posed today?  Who knows, but it's not impossible at all.  The doubt about Anglican orders was shifting to being about whether they really were invalid rather than about whether they were valid, but rumours that the subject was to be re-examined in the 1970s and 1980s swiftly came to an end when the Church of England changed its own approach to the importance of unity as regards Holy Order in the 1990s.

Isn't that exactly the point though?  Who wants doubt about orders, about sacraments?  Who wants to have to look up directories of "sound" parishes where it's "safe" to go, isn't that about as uncatholic an ecclesiology as one can find?  Who wants to be a smaller and smaller part of an institution that perceives you as more and more extreme, more and more troublesome?  Those who have joined the Ordinariate have done so because they answered a call to Unity, but also because they actively want and are attracted to there being no doubt about these things.

Since I wanted to be part of that, I accepted that I needed to assent to the same things as everyone else who is a part of it, and that I needed to take part in the same rites to get there.  I had no interest in arguing why something I did many years ago, out of communion with Rome (indeed through an Anglican bishop of a very protestant variety, not that that matters) was or was not enough to admit me into the same communion as those who have received chrismation at the hands of a Catholic priest in communion with Rome. 

By way of comparison, no clergyman can seriously think that all they have to do in order to be able to say mass at the Brompton Oratory or at Westminster Cathedral is to say that their Ordinary is no longer Richard Chartres, but it is Vincent Nicholls or Keith Newton, as if it were a minor procedural matter of changing your line manager.  Everyone knows there is something missing there.  Anglican ordinations were perfect for Anglican life, but in the Catholic Church, like every other Catholic priest, ordination must be carried out by a Catholic bishop : why would it be fair to leave the slightest whiff of doubt about orders in the minds of the congregation? 

What we are all after is sacramental certainty, sacramental assurance.  That comes through Unity with Rome.  All the fuss over the past 30 plus years in General Synod has been about what the changes would do to Unity and what the changes would do to sacramental assurance.  Why allow the slightest trace of that to persist?  Doubt over all this, and moreover ever-increasing doubt, is one element of Anglican Patrimony that  nobody wants.

The Ordinariate is about Unity and sacramental assurance.  However, it is also about recognising the Anglican Patrimony, the gifts, the abilities, the faith, the learning, the pastoral strengths, the music, the approach to liturgy, the relationship with the wider community, the philosophy and so many other things that are inherent in the best of Anglicanism, and finding a way to bring those into the Catholic Church.

Doesn't this recent letter say exactly that?

The Ordinariate is not about denying one's past, denying that one was an Anglican, denying that one retains strong Anglican characteristics.  Not at all.  Once a decision was made to leave, we were all encouraged to do so in an orderly fashion, minimising disruption, and it was made very clear that there was no panic to leave, because no-one was asking us to deny what was then the present, what had nourished us for so many years : we were being asked about our views of the Catholic future, not about what we thought or didn't think about the Church of England.

No-one suggests a move is easy, and we have referred before to how this caused great agonies for Dr Eric Mascall and many others, but a fair appraisal of a possible move is not helped by an absolutely and utterly mistaken belief that Rome sets past existence and ministry at naught.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Dublin 1932

Vintage footage of  liturgical celebrations from the past crops up regularly on this blog.  In our post The Angels Rejoice......and so do the ex-Anglicans you can see Pope Pius XII solemnly declaring, ex cathedra, that the Blessed Virgin Mary "....having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory."   There is Pathé film of the 1950 celebrations at Westminster Cathedral and at Wembley Stadium of the centenary of the re-establishment of the Catholic hierarchy in our post on Cardinal Wiseman.   You can see Cardinal Merry del Val visiting Assisi in another of our recent posts

Today. we've uncovered some youtube footage of the 31st International Eucharistic Congress, held in June 1932 in Dublin.  The footage very much speaks for itself. 

One of these films is a mini-documentary on that great event, which gives more of the background, including a recording of the great tenor John McCormack singing Panis Angelicus as a million people attended Mass in Phoenix Park.  I particularly like the footage of the Free State Air Force flying in the formation of a Cross to escort the arrival of the Papal Legate, Cardinal Lorenzo Lauri, into Dun Laoghaire Harbour.  Images of the Phoenix Park Mass, and of hundreds of thousands kneeling in adoration by O'Connell Bridge are also immensely powerful.  Just one complaint about the otherwise fascinating third video - the anachronism of having accompanied film of the 1932 procession through Navan with a soundtrack of an admittedly tasteful rendering of Make Me a Channel of Your Peace does rather jar!

For a fuller account of those great days in Dublin, I commend this article to you. 

Here is the video invitation to this year's International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin.  As we all know, much has changed since 1932, but we must all offer our support and our prayers, and if possible our presence, to this great call to witness and adoration. 

In spite of the danger of severe video overload, I'm afraid it was simply not possible to resist the temptation to take the opportunity to include John McCormack singing Panis Angelicus, sadly not the recording from Phoenix Park, but immensely evocative nonetheless. 

How wonderful it is, now in the Ordinariate, wholly in the Catholic Church and in communion with the Successor of St Peter, to be part of all this. 

Thursday, 22 March 2012

This is the Appropriate Moment

Anglo-Catholics might be interested in an open letter that was sent earlier this week, on the Solemnity of St Joseph, by Monsignor Nicola Bux (Consultor to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith) to Bishop Bernard Fellay and to all the priests of the Society of St Pius X.  Christian Unity is high up the agenda in Rome. 

The letter contains much that is entirely specific to the situation of the SSPX.  However, if one excludes those sections, could the text not equally be addressed to some of those in the Anglican Communion pondering their futures?  The letter, driven by the efforts of Pope Benedict XVI, this Pope of Christian Unity, to reunite the flock in one fold under one shepherd, contains points that will resonate deeply with many in that situation.

You can find the complete text in English on the website of the Rorate Coeli blog, but here are some relevant extracts of their translation from Monsignor Bux's French original
........Christian brotherhood is stronger than flesh and blood because it offers us, thanks to the divine Eucharist, a foretaste of heaven.

Christ invited us to experience communion, this is what our "I" is made of. Communion means loving one's neighbor a priori, because we have the one Savior in common with him. Based on this fact, communion is ready for every sacrifice in the name of unity; and this unity must be visible, as the last petition addressed by Our Lord to his Father teaches us - "ut unum sint, ut credat mundus" -, because this is the decisive testimony of Christ's friends........

.....With Saint Catherine of Siena, we wish to say: "Come to Rome in complete safety," next to the house of the common Father who was given to us as the visible and perpetual principle and foundation of Catholic unity......

......How not to think of the contribution you could give to the welfare of the whole Church, thanks to your pastoral and doctrinal resources, your capabilities and your sensibility?

This is the appropriate moment, the favorable time to come. Timete Dominum transeuntem: let not the occasion of grace the Lord offers you pass by, let it not pass by your side without recognizing it.

Will the Lord grant another one? Will not we all one day appear before His Court and answer not only for the evil we have done, but above all for the good we might have accomplished but did not?

The Holy Father's heart trembles: he awaits you anxiously because he loves you, because the Church needs you for a common profession of faith before a world that is each day more secularized and that seems to turn its back to its Creator and Savior hopelessly.

In the full ecclesial communion with the great family that is the Catholic Church, your voice will no longer be stifled, your contribution will be neither ignorable nor ignored, but will be able to bring forth, with that of so many others, abundant fruits which would otherwise go to waste........

........On this day dedicated to him, may Saint Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patron of the Universal Church, inspire and sustain your resolutions: "Come to Rome in all safety".
How else to follow something like that but with one of our favourite youtube clips, certainly provided here before, and featured as a permanent video on the right hand sidebar of this blog.

Tu es Petrus: et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam.  Et portæ inferi non prævalebunt adversus eam: et tibi dabo claves regni cælorum. 

Friday, 16 March 2012

Here We Go Again

Old issues keep cropping up, time and again.  Although in some places a constructive and engaged dialogue continues, in other places there is merely shouting (or as the French, in their unashamedly un-pc way, say un dialogue de sourds).  Currently, there are two very different examples of this phenomenon that are floating around the public consciousness (one rather more than the other), although there was a third example, to my mind in no way less important, which has been obliterated from the forum.

The first topic is the one that is all over the UK media, being the question of same-sex marriage and its near certain introduction into the English legal system (indeed the government now tells us that it doesn't matter how many people say they are for or against it, it is going to happen, come what may).  I am not going to dig a hole for myself by getting involved in that debate (and so it is unlikely that any comments will be published) : there are already plenty, far more eloquent and informed than I could ever be, on both sides of the discussion, who have made their case, just as there are those on both sides of the debate who have merely shouted at each other.  However, I will say a couple of things, writing purely in a personal capacity.

It is to be hoped that people on both sides of the debate understand that people on the other side do genuinely feel strongly about their position.  They each very honestly believe that they are putting forward a case that is robust, just, and in many ways, they feel, so obvious that it barely need be spoken.  That last part being the reason why the debate often gets so heated.  Some express themselves better than others, some show a deeper awareness of the contrary arguments than others, the words of all of them alike are twisted into grotesque (yes, I know the reference I am making, and no, read the original, Cardinal O'Brien did not say that anyone was grotesque) soundbites by the media, but underneath it all, they know that they sincerely hold the views they express and they know that their debating partners are no less sincere in their belief.

There are times when this slips and the situation turns unpleasant, though I won't name names : we can all think of examples on both sides. 

It should be emphasised that whatever else it is doing, and whatever else it may be perceived to be doing, the Catholic Church is not throwing itself into an attack on any particular group in this debate.  Those who like to deride the Catholic Church sometimes talk about its "unhealthy" obsession with sin, and how it imbues an enduring sense of "Catholic guilt" in its members : well, that in itself is an old debate, but in this context I would answer the "charge" by saying that all Catholics are indeed taught that they all sin, every one of them, each in their own ways, that none of them should feel superior to anyone else in this regard, and most importantly that they can all, if they want, receive God's forgiveness.  In support of this assertion, I could cite a familiar Bible text about motes, but in addition I would draw your attention to this recent homily given by the Holy Father.

The Catholic Church is defending something, not attacking something.  The letter from the Archbishop of Westminster and the Archbishop of Southwark read out in parishes last Sunday morning was a reasoned and calm, but very clear, defence of the traditional understanding of the institution of marriage. 

One big fear - and you don't have to agree with the Catholic Church's understanding of marriage to see this - is that the government just hasn't thought this through in detail.  The implications are not insignificant (for example, an interesting debate recently about something as basic as vocabulary, will the words husband, wife and even mother and father become politically incorrect?).  There is a special concern in the Church of England, whose statement yesterday points out the naivety of imagining that the dividing line between civil and religious marriage is quite as neat and tidy as seems to be assumed in the case of the established church, whose clergy are licensed to perform marriages.   

If the change is brought in, and it must be said that it seems very likely that it will be, it will probably be manageable for the Catholic Church to find a way to work with the new realities.  It will be messy, it will be difficult, but it will somehow be achievable.  There is after all the precedent of the mariage civil  and the mariage réligieux, as well as similar precedents from a few other countries, even if those do not quite replicate the context we will find here.  The time will surely come when even this will not be acceptable, and one can foresee the day when the government demands that any organisation that conducts marriages should do so for any who ask, regardless of how the request fits the organisation's own criteria for marriage. When that day comes, it might be necessary, as was suggested on the Valle Adurni blog a few weeks ago, for the Catholic Church simply to stop conducting any marriage ceremonies at all in order not to be in a position where it breaks the law where it "supplies services" to some but not to others.

The poor old CofE will have a tougher time, partly on account of its established status, but also on account of its rapidly growing body of evangelicals, who will struggle to come to an accommodation on this with the liberal wing, many of  whom would have no issue at all with conducting same-sex marriage ceremonies.

It must be conceded that those who have no religious belief must find it immensely frustrating that a group of people, however large, and based on whatever history and tradition, is perceived as trying to restrict some of those who have no interest in them. It behoves those advocating a traditional understanding of marriage to bear that in mind, just as we would ask those looking to bring same-sex marriage into existence to take account of the genuine reasons why people do not agree with them, rather than just lazily assuming that it must be down to one kind of prejudice or another.

A Stonewall lobbyist remarked that Catholics who are not in favour of same sex marriage should simply be careful to ensure that they don't enter into such an arrangement.  Some people found that flippant, but I must admit that I found it quite funny.  In return, a mildly amusing anecdote about the famous Labour MP Tom Driberg, later Lord Bradwell (immortalised in a rather unkind, if funny, 1977 Derek and Clive sketch about an exchange between taxi drivers that is definitely not for the faint of heart). 

Driberg, despite never making a secret of his homosexuality, decided to get married in 1951.  In a ceremony at St Mary's Bourne St in June that year (described as "outrageously ornate" by his biographer), at which his bride was first baptised and then entered church to the accompaniment of an organ arrangement of The Red Flag, Driberg made vows that he didn't end up keeping in front of a full house.  Among those present, so (possibly apocryphal) Bourne St legend relates, was Winston Churchill, who is said to have remarked unkindly of the bride's looks "Well, buggers can't be choosers."

On a more serious note, Driberg left instructions for the sermon to be given at his funeral.  It wasn't at all a celebration of how wonderful he was, of what a joyous and exuberant life he had led.  It was a powerful address, given by the Revd Gerald Irvine, on how Driberg had fallen short in his life, how he (exactly like everyone else, no better, no worse) was a sinner, which of the Seven Deadly Sins had plagued him most.  All of us can learn a lesson from Driberg in that respect, an awareness that no matter what our own little cocktail of pecadilloes might be, we all fall short, every one of us.

Interestingly, although Driberg maintained his lifelong Anglo-Catholicism (Lancing to Pusey House to St Mary's Bourne Street and onwards), he was supportive of someone whose life's path crossed his own on many occasions but who left Anglo-Catholicism.  Evelyn Waugh did what in 1930 was, even if not criminal, barely less scandalous socially than were Driberg's pastimes - he became a Catholic.  Did Driberg reject him as a bigot?  No - Driberg was Waugh's only guest upon his reception into the Catholic Church, and Driberg gave Waugh column space in the Daily Express subsequently to defend himself against charges of blasphemy from The Tablet (now doesn't that sound strange to the modern ear).


Another old issue that crops up again and again is the path to reunion between the Church of England and the Catholic Church.  Everyone with even the slightest interest in Christian Unity rejoices that the Archbishop of Canterbury and Holy Father jointly attended Vespers in Rome, and that together they gave thanks for the mission begun by St Gregory the Great of sending St Augustine of Canterbury to increase the spread of Christendom in the British Isles and to strengthen the links between the Church in England and Rome.  That Rowan Williams goes to Rome so often, and continues to be invited back, is a very good thing.  Christian Unity is a Gospel imperative, and however distant it seems, we must all seek it.

Still, there are those who see this as proof that everything can carry on exactly as before, that there are no new impediments to Christian Unity being gleefully erected by parts of the Anglican Communion.  I regret that those people would seem to be in Egyptian mode.  A strange comment on this was made by the American Episcopal Church's Pierre Whalon, who took the opportunity to have a little go at the Ordinariates formed under Anglicanorum Coetibus, declaring that they had no ecclesiological basis and that as pastoral measures would only last a decade or two.  Well, as an American he ought to know that the US Pastoral Provision, creating the Anglican Use in the Catholic Church in the USA was brought in 32 years ago. Furthermore, as the head of ECUSA's European branch, which overlaps with the Church of England's Diocese in Europe, he ought to know something about the endurance and ecclesiology of multiple jurisdictions of the same denomination co-existing in the same geographic territory.

This film of the event by Rome Reports shows the clear and genuine affection and respect that exists between the Holy Father and the Archbishop of Canterbury.  However, even though Pope Benedict XVI is most definitely the Pope of Christian Unity, the debate has moved on and there can be few who seriously believe that any kind of corporate reunion is possible in their lifetime (even if there were many who believed precisely that even twenty or thirty years ago).


Finally, the third old story that came briefly to public attention, yet has quickly been displaced by the two old stories above, particularly the first one, is abortion.  That, in itself, is sad.

However, the saddest thing is that those academic ethicists who argued (even if in the context of academia) that infanticide (or if you prefer, post natal abortion) could be justified did not expect the reaction they got.

We all know the difficult cases where there are heart-rending tales used to argue in favour of and against abortion.  The victim of rape who can't bear the thought of a permanent reminder of the awful crime that befell her.  The mother of several children who cannot see how she could possibly cope with more children without causing severe difficulties for her existing children.  The adult who might so nearly have been aborted when in the womb but wasn't.  The disabled child who brought joy to their parents.  We all understand the difficulties here, all of us know that glib answers just won't do, and we all know that you can find people for and against any such cases (even when Church teaching is very clear). 

However, is the world really such a horrible place that shock and revulsion at the very idea of infanticide come as a surprise to some?

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Dewi Sant, Canon Ursell and a Debt to Wales

What could the debt be, that someone of Scottish origin, living in England, could owe to the traditions of the Welsh church and indirectly to the saint whose feast we mark today, St David?  Very simply, my journey into Anglo-Catholicism and from there ultimately into the full communion of the Catholic Church included what one might call a detour into a sphere influenced by the history, if not even then the reality, of the Church in Wales. 

Arriving as an undergraduate at Oxford, I found myself at Pusey House on my first Sunday morning (hence Betjeman's Summoned by Bell having made at least one appearance on this blog before).  Despite having attended Mass occasionally with my Catholic grandmother, I had never seen anything quite like the way in which Pusey House's liturgy was presented.  I rather liked it, and kept coming back, week by week, for the next few years. 

What worked so well on someone to whom that tradition was essentially alien, was that there was liturgical dignity and correctness but no fussiness, uncompromising clarity of catholic teaching but no bombast, friendliness and community without cliques and exclusivity.  It just worked.  It offered a way in to something that an outsider could happily take, the "target audience" if you like was the general population of the University of Oxford with an interest in Christianity, there was no sense of Pusey House being only for committed Anglo-Catholics, although of course those who came in the door often emerged as such.

That approach was down to the Principal in those days, Canon Philip Ursell, then as now the Warden of Ascot Priory.  Canon Ursell had studied and trained in both England and Wales, and served as a curate in Canon Freddy Hood's old parish in Porthcawl, before becoming a University Chaplain at Cardiff and then Chaplain at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

His view was that you could catch the interest of more people if you neither vaunted, but nor indeed hid, some of the more "full throttle" expressions of Anglo-Catholicism, but you let it be known that they were there, and encouraged people to find them in their own time.  For example, the Angelus was said after the Sunday High Mass ended, but only by the clergy and servers in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel : the congregation, listening to the organ voluntary, would be aware only of the sound of distant prayers from the other side of the rood screen. 

Another example : Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was given only twice a year, once at Corpus Christi (from the rood screen indeed), and once at the end of the academic year, following an outdoor procession through the grounds of Ascot Priory.  By the way, the General Thanksgiving, now so much loved and used by the Ordinariate (including at the recent Solemn Evensong, Procession and Benediction at St James's, and even more recently at St Peter's Basilica in Rome), was the prayer at Benediction on those occasions.

The Sacred Triduum was observed, but at Ascot Priory, and with a guest list made up of those of the congregation who would benefit from that most.  Many a new Anglo-Catholic's first confession was made on such occasions.

This confident strategy was born of the same approach that was behind some of the anecdotes of those days, a confidence in some of the Church in Wales of those days, as in some of the Church of England at that time, that it and no other was the Catholic Church in this land.  The Principal told the story of his first Vicar, who in discussion with a young "spike" was challenged as to why he no longer genuflected during the Et Incarnatus :
"By what authority have you stopped genuflecting, Father?"

"The same authority by which you started genuflecting."
Sitting where we sit now, of course, it seems slightly uncomfortable to acknowledge the anecdotes that "converts" from the Catholic Church might very well have been formally "received" upon their arrival in the Church in Wales or the Church of England in those times.  However, that is merely an outward sign of the genuine and sincere belief (whether we agree with it or not, in the context of then or now) that those bodies represented, at least in "sound parishes", the Catholic Church in this Land.

It's all rather different now, of course.  Reports (such as here on Ancient Briton, and here on All Gas and Gaiters) following the untimely death of the Revd Jeremy Winston make that painfully clear.

Let's not be despondent though.  St David's Day has been the perfect opportunity for the Ordinariate to announce the launching of three Ordinariate Exploration Groups in Wales: Cardiff, Swansea and Abergavenny.  There are signs of hope that this wonderful Anglo-Catholic tradition will find itself a new home in which it will be cherished, valued and nurtured.

I owe a lot to that tradition, and see much of it in the Ordinariate.  We must all give thanks for that Anglican Patrimony which Pope Benedict has invited us to bring with us into the Catholic Church.

To conclude, video footage of the Holy Father's visit to Westminster Cathedral in September 2010.  As he processed out, to the joyous accompaniment of Bruckner's Ecce Sacerdos Magnus, he stopped to pray at the new shrine to St David.  The smiles of the congregation just before he arrives at the shrine are very moving, felicitously occurring at the high point of the fortissimo in the setting of the word Deo as the tenor part soars above the others.

St David, pray for us.