In the time before our distinctively "Anglican" rite is approved and published by the Holy See, the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham has permission to use the Book of Divine Worship of the American Anglican Use.
Today, for the first time since my visit to Texas back before Easter, I was able to concelebrate Mass using those Anglican cadences.
Fr Jonathan Redvers-Harris is Pastor to the Ordinariate Group which is based in Ryde, on the Isle of Wight. As if this were not enough, he also cares for a number of people on the Mainland (half an hour's ferry trip from Ryde). It was especially good to discover today two old Portsmouth friends who were not in the 'first wave' but who will soon be received into the Catholic Church and the Ordinariate. We were celebrating Mass in a historic building which narrowly escaped demolition in the vandalism which harmed much of Portsmouth after the War. It was as though what the Germans had left untouched, the City Fathers would raze to the ground. St Agatha's was a famous Anglo-Catholic bastion, where Fr Robert Dolling had done battle with the Brewers and the brothel-owners of his slum parish — but eventually had to resign when his bishop would not support him any longer. He had committed the unforgiveable sin of introducing a Requiem Altar where prayer might be said for the Dead. Soon after the end of WWII, the Dockyard was extended and St Agatha's found itself within the Naval enclave. Not much later, the Royal Navy began its long decline, and St Agatha's, which had been a storehouse, was redundant. It was threatened with demolition, but in the end was spared, albeit much damaged.
More recently Fr Maunder of the TAC has been able to restore the Church for Christian Worship, and has retrieved many of the treasures of St Agatha's which had been given away — most recently he has reclaimed furnishings given to a hospital chapel which, in its turn, has become disused. So it was in a chapel on the north side of the Church that we gathered today, a couple of dozen of us, to sing a Mass of St Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower.
The whole event seemed to me a parable of what the Holy Father has set in motion through Anglicanorum Coetibus. Worship is restored in a fully Catholic Rite, but using much of our Anglican Patrimony. The physical setting, the music, the liturgy had a grave splendour in tune with much of what the Holy Father has had to say about worship. And after Mass there was joyful fellowship across the present impairments to communion. It is likely there will be future celebrations by the Ordinariate in this TAC Church — the next probably at 12.15 on Saturday October 29th — and we are praying for the TAC, that their appeal to Rome might also find favour and lead us into complete unity with them. The presence of Fr Maunder and also Bishop Robert Mercer CR, together with some of their faithful, was a delight to us all, and it was good to be able to have some conversation with them over lunch — generously provided by St Agatha's. Please continue to pray for them, and for our little Ordinariate Groups, that they might flourish and, in due course, be transformed into fully functioning Parishes of the Catholic Church.
(Further comment and pictures may be found on the Ancient Richborough blog.)