Someone I know was "gotten to". A friend who was in full support of the Ordinariate just a few months ago is now vehemently against it. It is not because of any shocking piece of new information that he discovered while reading through secret Vatican documents (nothing so dramatic as that). Rather, it is because–as he told me–he spoke to a "continuing Anglican" priest who told him that Rome's real motivation is to bring us under their thumb and then play the "old switcheroo" and force us to give up the Anglican liturgy. Once he "realized" that this was "going to" happen, he stepped back and changed his position.
Aside from the fact that this is a grave misunderstanding of the circumstances (Rome has bigger fish to fry than getting former Anglicans to use the Roman Missal), we have to ask ourselves if this is even a properly balanced concern. True, Rome can change the liturgy and make some people upset, but it is not as though the Anglican Churches have never had to worry about this. Episcopalians know very well what happened with the Book of Common Prayer in 1979, but does further division solve this problem? Division breeds division and the rejection of the papacy is now reaping what was sown. If you bake a cake and it comes out tasting like dog food, it will not solve the problem to throw away the cake and use the exact same recipe a second time (or a third, fourth, or fifth time). As one Anglican clergyman said to me just the other day, "communion with Rome is the only faithful response at this time in the history of Anglicanism".
Anglicanism is at a crossroads, and the status quo is not a viable alternative at this time; something must change. To continue on in the same pattern of, "divide, degenerate, debate, divide, degenerate, debate (ad nauseam)", will not solve anything. As Anglicans, many of us realized some time ago (some more than others) that we really need the Catholic Church. Without her we are only going to perpetuate the dysfunctional habits that have become a part of the ecclesiastical descendants of Cranmer. C.S. Lewis once had Aslan the Lion lament, “O, son of Adam, how cleverly you defend yourself against all that will do you good.” Reunion with Holy Mother Church will do us good. It may bring persecution as well, but then faithfulness to God always does. Moving into the unknown is certainly a concern for many, but the Lord never promises that we will be able to stay in our comfort zones.
I know of people who have chosen not to join the Ordinariate because they do not want to have to go through a marriage annulment. Another person I know said outright that he does not want the Ordinariate because he does not want to have to submit to the Pope. One man said that it may be right for me, but it is not right for him (!). Mistaken and confused ideas about who and what the Catholic Church is are not in a shortage right now. Those who decide not to join will have different reasons for doing so, and I am not about to stand in judgment on their inner motivations. Yet, coming into communion with the Catholic Church should not be done because we believe that we are going to get what we want. If one's own selfish desires are first in his thought process, then he is not thinking in a godly manner. I (and others) have said this before, but it appears like it needs to be repeated.
I also know of Anglican clergy whose primary motivation for joining the Ordinariate is so that they can find a place where no one is going to try to ordain women to holy orders. Aside from the importance of this concern, this is not a proper rationale for entering into this process. The wrong expectations will always lead to disappointment. How we approach new ventures in life will greatly determine how we respond to the challenges that those new ventures bring upon us. I fully expect that our entrance into communion with the Holy See is going to be a blessed and joyful event. That does not mean, however, that I think that it will be all "wine and roses". Faithfulness to Christ always entails trials, and persecutions will undoubtedly come upon those who wish to serve God with deep commitment. There were many who joined the Church in the first century, but not all of them remained within her fold when the trials arose.
A Catholic lady said to me a while ago, "I don't care what liturgy you use, or whether you are traditional or not, I'm just happy that you are going to be at the altar with us". Her heart reveals the same humility that should be evident in us: joyful for the blessings of God and not murmuring about anything that disappoints (cf. Philippians 2:14-15). My friend that I mentioned at the beginning was led astray and I pray for him that he will come back to the truth. What becomes more difficult is when someone is led astray and yet is still seeking to join the Ordinariate. We all come with the "baggage" of our sins–I have mine and you have yours–but we should be coming with humble hearts that trust God to give us what we need more than what we want (for they are not always the same thing).
To all my brothers and sisters who are getting ready for the establishment of the Ordinariate here in America, I encourage you during this Advent season to use it as preparatory, not just for the proper celebration of the Christmas season, but also for the proper celebration of our entrance into the Ordinariate. Prepare your hearts for obedience; not just obedience to those things that you like, but also obedience to the things that make you uncomfortable. If we only obey the things that we are comfortable with, then can we say we are truly submitting to our leaders? Jesus likes to force us out of our comfort zones, and if you are coming to the Ordinariate in order to find your comfort zone, then you misunderstand how the Church works. Challenges and sacrifices will be in the future, and we are called to rejoice in the midst of them. Yet, we will not be able to rejoice properly if our hearts are not right, and for that we need preparation. The preparation of Advent (as well as the coming Lenten season) is an ideal time to offer "our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto" God our Father.
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