|Evensong and Benediction|
Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas
Something big is happening, and it really is the way of the future. It has to do with restoration, and by that I mean the restoration of something very big and very old. About 500 years ago, while Martin Luther was just beginning to start his Protestant Revolution in Germany, England was still a staunchly Catholic country. At that time it was known as "Mary's Dowry" and had King Henry VIII not embarked on a lust-filled schism to legitimatise his adultery and illegitimate offspring, England might still be Catholic today. Imagine that, if you will. What would it look like?
You don't need to imagine too hard, because you see, that image exists today, albeit in a much smaller form. It's called the Anglican Patrimony Ordinariates. These are the Personal Ordinariates, created by Pope Benedict XVI, initially as a juridic structure for former Anglicans and Methodists, who have left Protestantism behind and brought their English liturgical heritage into the Catholic Church. The Anglican Patrimony is most clearly seen in Divine Worship, which is the liturgical norm of the Ordinariate, sometimes informally called the Anglican Form of the Roman Rite but the proper name is Divine Worship. Here are some samples of Divine Worship in action...
Divine Worship Holy Mass
Divine Worship Evensong
Everyone is familiar with the mass of course, but what is evensong? This is the English form of high vespers. When it is spoken, it is called Evening Prayer. When it is sung, it is called Evensong. These terms are just one of the peculiarities of the Anglican Patrimony. If the Protestant Revolution never happened in England, if England had been allowed to continue on as "Mary's Dowry," then Catholic worship in the English-speaking world would probably look something like this -- a Form of the Roman Rite heavily influenced by the Sarum Use (a form of the Roman Rite commonly celebrated in England before the Protestant Revolution). Divine Worship follows the older versions of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer in some ways, but is more consistent with the ancient Sarum Use, and remains completely faithful to Catholic teaching and orthodoxy. What we have here is the restored Anglican Patrimony within the Catholic Church, or what English Catholicism would look like today, had King Henry VIII not broke England away from communion with Rome. It is alive today, vibrant, and just oozing with medieval tradition. Watch the videos and see for yourself.
Of course, a great many Catholics are frustrated that there is no such parish anywhere near their location. Some of these Catholics are former Anglicans or Episcopalians. Some of them are even former Methodists. They like what they see, but must resign to what seems like an impossibility, since there is no such parish near them. Well folks, all of that is about to change, because of a little organisation called the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society. Pronounced as "Ang-lick-an-OR-oom CHAY-tee-boos," the Society is named after the Apostolic Constitution signed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 by the same name. Anglicanorum Coetibus means "Groups of Anglicans" in Latin, and it is the Apostolic Constitution that allows for the creation of Personal Ordinariates within the Catholic Church that follow the Anglican Patrimony as prescribed by Divine Worship. In other words, Anglicanorum Coetibus is the papal document that makes the Personal Ordinariates possible, and revives the Anglican Patrimony within the Catholic Church again. The Catholic Church hasn't used the Anglican Patrimony in nearly five centuries, so this is a really big deal.
Now the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society is dedicated to the promotion of Anglicanorum Coetibus and it's propagation throughout the English-speaking world. That means supporting the formation of more Catholic communities based on the Anglican Patrimony and strengthening those that already exist. So how is that done, and can it be done outside of the official structure of the Ordinariates?
It's simple really. It all begins with a map...
The map has two different kinds of pins. The first kind are the blue pins. These represent established Ordinariate communities. The second kind are the red pins. These represent Anglican Patrimony Groups, seeking to become established Ordinariate communities someday. Once an Anglican Patrimony Group is received by the Ordinariate, and becomes an established Ordinariate community, the pin will change from red to blue on the map.
Look, here's the deal. You don't need to be close to an Ordinariate community to join the Ordinariate. That's because Ordinariate membership is open to anyone who qualifies and who wants it. It is possible to be an Ordinariate member and still attend a local diocesan parish. It happens all the time. This will not affect your regular everyday parish life in any way. The only thing it changes is your bishop. When you need something from the bishop, you'll have to call the Ordinariate chancery in Houston, Texas rather than your local diocesan chancery. That's all. Since the Ordinariate bishop is accustomed to handling the requests of Catholics with Anglican (Episcopalian) or Methodist heritage, you can expect him to be much more responsive and understanding in these cases. For example; in many Roman dioceses and archdioceses, first communion is often received at a very early age (ages 6 though 8) while confirmation is usually held off until the teen years. But let's say you want your children to receive confirmation and first communion together, like at age 10 for example, as is customary in the Anglican tradition. Something like this could usually more easily be worked out with the Ordinariate than a regular Roman diocese or archdiocese. Thus Ordinariate membership could be very beneficial in this scenario. Even if you don't live near an Ordinariate community, it might be possible for the Ordinariate to dispatch a priest with faculties to your location for a day, just for the purpose of celebrating a Divine Worship mass and confirming your children. This is just one such example of how Ordinariate membership might be helpful in maintaining an important Anglican custom for the sake of your family.
If you qualify to become an Ordinariate member, you and your immediate family can join the Ordinariate, by filling out a simple application form.
Wondering if you qualify? Here are the requirements straight from the North American Ordinariate website. Those who are eligible for membership in the Ordinariate must be able to answer "YES" to at least one of the following questions:
- Are you a former Anglican, Methodist, or member of an ecclesial communion that includes those of Anglican heritage (United Church of Canada, Charismatic Episcopal Church, etc.) who is now in full communion with the Catholic Church?
- Are you a current Anglican or Methodist intending to be received into the Catholic Church AND currently enrolled in adult catechises to be received into the Catholic Church?
- Are you a Roman Catholic in full communion with the Catholic Church AND who has a family member(s) who is (are) a canonical member(s) of the Ordinariate?
- Have you completed or are you a candidate for any or all of the Sacraments of Initiation through an Ordinariate or Pastoral Provision parish?
- Are you a Roman Catholic in full communion with the Catholic Church AND who has a family member(s) who is (are) a candidate(s) for any or all Sacraments of Initiation through an Ordinariate or Pastoral Provision parish?
In North America, simply download and print the application here. The completed application can either be given to an Ordinariate priest or, if one is not available nearby, it can be sent via regular postage mail to the following address...
Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter
P.O. Box 55206
Houston, TX 77255
In the United Kingdom, you can fill out an application online here.
In Australia and Oceania, you can contact the Ordinariate here.
That's just the beginning. If you would like to do more, you can actually start an Anglican Patrimony Group in your area. Such groups can potentially become Ordinariate communities someday, with an assigned priest and regular mass. This is not guaranteed of course, but it's happened before so it can happen again. To get such a group included on the above map, this is what you'll need to do...
- Register as a member of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society (ACS): http://www.acsociety.org/membership Note: Any Catholic can be a member of the ACS. You don't need to be a member of the Ordinariate to join the ACS.
- A regular meeting place must be established with a real address that can be published on the map. This can be as simple as somebody's house, or an office space, or a library room, or a Catholic chapel if available, etc.
- Provide the ACS with a contact person (name, phone number and/or email address) along with the physical address of the meeting place to be published on the map: http://www.acsociety.org/contact
- The group must meet minimally once a month, but may meet more often as the group desires.
- During each meeting, either Morning or Evening Prayer must be said (whichever is appropriate), according to the approved Daily Office of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, or the Office as published at http://prayer.covert.org/
- Additional time for visiting and fellowship is encouraged whenever possible. Religious studies are NOT necessary. However, we encourage pastoral oversight by a member of the Catholic clergy if any religious studies are to be done. Materials for such monitored religious studies should be limited to the Catholic Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
- Contact the ACS with all this information, and keep the ACS updated regularly.
The Anglicanorum Coetibus Society is currently under the leadership of Deborah Gyapong, a professional journalist in both Canada and the United States. The Board of Directors is currently working on bringing us scholarly journals, podcasts, blog participation, and other new things, available only to members of the Society. There is literally no limit to how big the Ordinariate can grow in the English-speaking (Anglophone) world. Imagine if you will, someday generations from now, multiple ordinariates in North America. Now imagine if you can, the word "Archordinariate," a large Ordinariate consisting of numerous parishes somewhere among the other ordinariates in North America. This CAN happen! It is within the realm of possibilities, perhaps not anytime in the near future, but maybe someday in the distant future, generations from now. How does that happen? It begins with small Anglican Patrimony Groups all over the place. It begins with diligent prayer and patience, waiting on some of those groups to become Ordinariate communities (Lord willing). It begins by diligently working with an assigned Ordinariate priest to form that community into a parish. In short, if you're eligible for Ordinariate membership, it begins with you.
Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books and a columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'CatholicInTheOzarks.com.' Your support is what makes essays like this possible. This essay and all of Shane's Internet resources come to you (ad-free) thanks to the generosity of benefactors. Please consider becoming a benefactor.
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