All One

Countries are simply conventions. They are merely agreed upon borders marking off the dominant authorities in various locations. All kings, presidents, and legislators will fade away, for their power is nothing when compared with the King of kings. Ethnicity is nothing more than a marker for certain cultural and geographical backgrounds possessed by a group of people. This is how the Scriptures tell us to think in the Church. There is neither Jew nor Greek, Barbarian nor Scythian, African nor European, British nor Canadian; for we are all one in Christ Jesus our Lord.

National or ethnic identities are useful for distinctions as well as for understanding one's heritage. Yet, in spite of those distinct local customs, there is only one people of God. No matter how many different local practices we may have, those differences are not supposed to separate us from one another, but merely distinguish us from each other. Certainly there are sinful divisions that exist between the people of God–not all are in communion with the Holy See–yet we are supposed to be working to destroy all things that divide, not create more divisions. Anything that would create more wedges between Christians than there already are is wrong, and anything that would create wedges between Christians who are already in union with one another is even worse.

Ordinariates will be established within the geographical boundaries that we call countries merely for the sake of convenience and clarity of jurisdiction. These countries are allowed certain distinctives but those distinctives are nothing more than common practices (be they good or bad). An Australian Ordinariate has no essential differences with an Ordinariate in Argentina. I may dislike something about another country, but that has nothing to do with the fact that we are called to be Christian first, and national last. There are not supposed to be "Chinese Catholics" or "African Catholics" or "French Catholics" or "Mexican Catholics". These are things that we have created; not what God has commanded. The Ordinariates will be Catholic; not American, nor Japanese, nor anything else. In the Church all such divisions must be abolished because, "He is our peace, Who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us" (Ephesians 2:14).

25 thoughts on “All One”

    1. The verse I quoted speaks of our individual standing before God (i.e. the sacrament of Baptism); it says nothing about the sacrament of holy orders. The Apostle Paul tells us what he thinks about ecclesiastical issues and women's ordination elsewhere (1 Tim 2:12) and leaves no room for dissent.

      1. J.M.J.

        Fr. Seraiah wrote:

        "…The Apostle Paul tells us what he thinks about ecclesiastical issues and women's ordination elsewhere (1 Tim 2:12) and leaves no room for dissent."

        Apparently there is the perception of room for dissent, and that for some reason scripture is not sufficiently clear to some people. Otherwise, we would not even face the question.

        Thankfully, The Church has the Authority to settle questions regarding the faith, and Blessed John Paul II settled the issue definitively for The Church when he wrote:

        "Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful."


  1. It is possible that country are conventions, but I personnaly think that they are an instrument in God's salvation plan. The date of birth of many European countries is the same as the baptism of their first Christian King: France with Clovis, Hungary with Stephen, Poland with Kazimir, Germany with Henry etc…
    God wants the various country to exist, and to remain free, as the extraordinary witness of St Joan of Arc prove it.
    Even more, God determined boundaries to countries using geography: for example, France is clearly a God-created country, limited by the Ardennes mountains in the North, the Rhine river and the Jura and Alps mountains in the East, the Mediterranean sea and the Pyrénées mountains in the south, and the Atlantic ocean and North sea in the West. In this coherent geographical area, God put a coherent people speaking one latino-celtic language, a people that He made his own at the baptism of our first King,Clovis.

    + PAX et BONUM

    1. A tricky line of an argument Henri. What was the game plan for Belgium? ( I speak as somebody with a Flemish great-grandmother whom I blame for my liking of chips with mayo).

  2. Sorry, didn't finish: What did God think of the French Revolution? And when did God finish creating that country? He was certainly in no hurry.

  3. Henri:

    I think it would be useful here to distinguish between the concepts of state, culture, and civilization.

    For example, pope John Paul II appealed to the various cultures of Europe to preserve, or even regain, the link to the higher and more profound expression of their identity, namely the Christian civilization. He also appealed to the powers of the state to understand this rightful aspiration, and not to stand in the way.

    Father Seriah is absolutely right – our Church created the Christian civilization, and while the Church does not strive to suppress legitimate cultural expressions, it nevertheless guides these cultures to the higher ground, as commanded by our Lord. On the other hand, any attempt by a state to dictate terms to an otherwise healthy culture (as happened in some countries in Europe after WW II), is an inversion of roles – Caesar taking what does not belong to him. I would say that ideally the three should be nested in each other – state in culture, then culture in civilization – and all three in God.

    One minor quibble – change Kazimierz to Mieszko (966 is the date, btw).

  4. "Anglicanorum Cœtibus" has as a major aim the preservation of Anglican patrimony. That patrimony, by its very nature, recognises national differences in liturgy and in discipline and in devotion. This is already being expressed, for the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is mostly using the N.O. on the grounds that most of its clerics used it before. The new Ordinariate for the American Republic will use a Book of Divine Worship the prayers of which come not just from any tradition but from a specifically American one in the old Canterbury Communion. In fact, those prayers come from the 1979 U.S. Prayerbook.

    Canada, to take one example, has a different liturgical tradition, one derived from the 1962 Canadian Prayerbook. Canadian incomers to ordinariates can be expected to share a common Anglican patrimony with others but not what is specifically American.

    2012 marks the Diamond Jubilee of the Queen of Canada. Since the crowns were only separated legally in 1931, this is the very first time a specifically Canadian monarch has reached this milestone. How inappropriate it would be to ask Canadian incoming Anglicans to join the ordinariate of a foreign country in the Year of this Jubilee.

    Ordinaraites are canonically cumulative with local dioceses in jurisdiction, and they pertain to episcopal conferences. While not all episcopal conferences correspond to national borders, most do. This is because the Church has always respected nations and national differences–and national borders. While, in exceptional cases, diocesan borders cross national frontiers, the standard is quite the contrary and always has been.. While national differences are secondary to spritiual unity, they are also important; they are to be respected. There is to be a true diversity in unity, and this diversity includes ethnic and national diversity. Holy Church very much values such differences and wants all of us to benefit from one another's cultures and national characteristics.

    Canada exists precisely because she chose not to accept the rebellion of 1776 or the principles of America's foundation. This in no way implies an unwillingness to respect what is American. Friendship among nations will not be fostered, however, by forcing Canadian incoming Anglicans into a foreign structure that has a foreign liturgical and devotional culture.

    Archbishop Collins thinks that 'distances are great' in Canada and that the number of Canadian incomers is few. By what standard? The Church has an entire particular church (a prefecture apostolic), which is greater in jurisdiction than is an ordinariate, for just the Galapagos Islands. There is a vicariate apostolic for all of Arabia. There is an Armenian ordinariate covering over thirty countries in Latin America. It has only two parishes in it. There is an apostolic vicaraite for Atyrau, in Kazakhstan, for only a handfull of faithful scattered over a large distance. There is an entire ecclesiastical province (one archdiocese and two suffragan dioceses) for Alaska. Here in Canada, the Diocese of Moosonee has only 3,000 subjects scattered over a huge area–right in His Graces' own country. In Algeria, there are four of five diocese for only a few hundred faithful scattered over a huge distance. The Armenians have an ordinariate in Greece with only one parish in it, at Athens. The Byzantine Greek Catholics have an exarchate covering all of Greece. It has only three parishes in it. There is an apostolic administration set up recently in Afghanistan. It has only one embassy chapel in it and serves only embassy personnel in Kabul, plus two or three Afghan families who dared to convert. In law, an apostolic administration is more than is an ordinariate, because the former qualifies as a particular church (cf. Canon 368).

    This observation of His Grace looks a bit like an excuse. Can there be a separate ordinariate for Canada? Of course there can, taking into account a very great deal of evidence regarding the sizes and populations of Catholic dioceses and other jurisdictions. The real reason for denying an ordinariate to Canada is simple: liberals in the Canadian Latin Church don't want the TAC to control a Catholic jurisdiction. In Canada, most incomers are TAC members, and the TAC is 'politically incorrect' because it has existed since 1977 solely in opposition to womanpriest. That is what is really going on here.

    I hope that someone in Rome is listening to all of this. The TAC people are heroes because, like the Latin Mass people, they have sacrificed everything for the True Faith. Now, it seems, they are being asked to sacrifice even more. Now they will have to swallow the Bugnini Mass or a Mass that includes the Bugnini Offertory. . This is not part of their patrimony and it is not part of the sacred tradition of the Holy Catholic Church, extra ecclesia nulla salus. In addition, they are now asked, at least for the next three years (Msgr. Burnham's figure) to pray not according to their own patrimony but according to that of another country.

    National difference in worship is an integral part of the Anglican patrimony, as it dervies from Anglican practice of having distinctive liturgies for each country. One must therefore respect those differences in order to respect the Anglican patrimony as a whole, and this is mandated by "Anglicanorum Cœtibus".


    1. Part of the trouble is in the insistence by the RCC to prescribe in minute detail how everybody must worship. The TAC have always used Catholic rites and ought to be "allowed" to continue using them. I have never seen a convincing argument against the this principle of freedom of expression and in favour of control-freakery.

      1. O Lord Jesus Christ, who, when Thou wast about to suffer, didst pray for Thy disciples to the end of time that they might all be one, as Thou art in the Father, and the Father in Thee, look down in pity on the manifold divisions among those who profess Thy faith, and heal the many wounds which the pride of man and the craft of Satan have inflicted upon Thy people.

        Break down the walls of separation which divide one party and denomination of Christians from another. Look with compassion on the souls who have been born in one or other of these various communions which not Thou, but man hath made. Set free the prisoners from these unauthorised forms of worship, and bring them all into that one communion which thou didst set up in the beginning, the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

        Teach all men that the see of St. Peter, the Holy Church of Rome, is the foundation, centre, and instrument of unity. Open their hearts to the long-forgotten truth that our Holy Father, the Pope, is thy Vicar and Representative; and that in obeying Him in matters of religion, they are obeying Thee, so that as there is but one holy company in heaven above, so likewise there may be but one communion, confessing and glorifying Thy holy Name here below. Amen.

        – from Newman's Meditations & Devotions.

    2. Sadly, the ordinariates cannot be all things to all people. These are at present, and will be for the forseeable future, tiny freckles on the Body of Christ. Personally, I wish they would do everything the way they do it at St. Swithun's in the Swamp, but such won't be the case.

      PKTP cites examples of tiny jurisdictions. And while the Catholic Church respects these, I doubt they want to have a proliferation of more of them. Ordinariates need to be self-supporting. That is a tall order when, in the case of the UK, they have only about 1000 people. I live in what will probably be an ordinariate-free-zone for a long time to come, the SF Bay Area, where I detect not the slightest interest in the ordinariate (please prove me wrong, someone!). As such I must make my own decisions.

      As to prayerbooks, I would be very happy to see the US 1928 prayerbook service of Holy Communion left untouched, except for a paragraph or two added to the prayer of consecration listing the Pope and some better known saints. It ain't gonna happen. Look at the bellyaching that Catholics are going through with the new ICEL mass translation. Some grumble, but they do not presume to dictate. Allowing Anglicans to pick and choose may create an example that the hierarchy would not appreciate.

      If you become Catholic, you really become Catholic. The church has its own well-known, nearly two millenia-old authority structure. That, my friends, will not change.

          1. Well, there is St Mary of the Angels not so far (or perhaps it is? I don't figure well distances in California), and 4 or 5 can become much more… It's the way most Anglican Use society of continuing parishes have started…

            + PAX et BONUM

            1. I wanted to say "OR continuing parishes"
              Moreover, 4 or 5 can meet to celebrate the Divine Office in the Anglican Use in a church with permission of the rector, or even at someone's home, open a blog etc… No need to be many. The Marylebone ordinariate group in London is made of 3 persons, and yet they have their blog, they meet for the Divine Office, and sometimes join another group for an ordinariate Mass.

              + PAX et BONUM

            2. It's ridiculously out of the way. St. Mary of the Angels is approximately 400 miles (643.7 kilometers) from the SF Bay Area. Imagine living in Paris and trying to attend weekly Mass in Bordeaux.

            3. Thanks Sam! On the other hand, there is St. Columba's Church, in the back of and beyond Reno, Nevada that is only 350 miles away. Perhaps our merry band of 4 or 5 Bay Area "Anglicans for the Ordinariate" will actually find itself, somewhere, someday.

  5. "Countries are simply conventions. They are merely agreed upon borders marking off the dominant authorities in various locations….. Ethnicity is nothing more than a marker for certain cultural and geographical backgrounds possessed by a group of people. "

    Sorry, Father, but this is baloney. Things, especially things having to do with human civilization, history, and culture, are never "simply"s, "merely"s and "nothing more"s except in ideal worlds. The attempt to reduce them to such smells strongly of Stalinism, and is a very dangerous path to go down, for you will trample over people and the things they love in the process.

    1. Mike,

      I believe you have greatly misunderstood my point. I am far from a Stalinist. As I said in the post, "This is how the Scriptures tell us to think in the Church" where national ties must always come second to our ties to the Kingdom of God. I do not mean to eliminate any distinctives, just put them in their place and thereby keep them from dividing us.

  6. Mark VA wrote: "I would say that ideally the three should be nested in each other – state in culture, then culture in civilization – and all three in God."

    This is a brilliant observation sir. Strong work there. I wholeheartedly agree! It would seem that historically, in Christian Europe, this is pretty close to how it actually worked out.

    Sadly, in today's world we all too often see the inversion where God is nested at the bottom while everything is nested in the state — a Satanic perversion. I believe this began during the post-Reformation imperial eras of various European countries, and finally settled in the models of the "proposition nations" that came out of the Enlightenment Period and Industrial Revolution.

    I think the healthy model is what you outlined in your nested theory. This can't happen in reality until we get back to the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ.

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