Joyful and Happy?

. . . gaudete in Domino semper (Philippians 4:4) . . . be joyful and happy Catholics!

These words, from Fr. Jeffrey Steenson, the new Ordinary for the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (just in case anyone forgot the authority that has been granted to him by the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI), are important for all of us. Whether you are an Anglican preparing to enter the Ordinariate or a non-Anglican Catholic who is just interested in the Ordinariate, the command to be joyful is not one that we are supposed to ignore. We are to be "joyful and happy" because we always are given far better things than we deserve, and we are supposed to trust Jesus to do what is best (even if we think we know a better way).

Yet, from what I have been reading here in the comments section of The Anglo-Catholic (and a few other websites as well) for the past few days, it appears that there are many who are much more interested in being "irritable and grouchy" Catholics. I do not need to expound on what it means to be joyful. We all know how to be joyful, and those who are not joyful know that they are not. Excuses are not a justification to ignore our responsibility of viewing others words and actions in the best possible light. Currently, however, it seems that the words and actions of those who have made decisions for the new Ordinariate are not being viewed in the best possible light. Conspiracy theories abound. Let each of us take a moment to consider the words of the Catechism:

To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor's thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way (2478).

Although some are doing this, I have seen more than enough examples of interpreting things in the worst possible way.

On January 1st we received a gift from God that was the answer to many years of prayers. I began to rejoice and give Him praise. Then, for the past few days, I have felt sadness. Sadness that there are voices that are not joyful, but rather miserable. I expect some of those speaking in this manner would complain that Jesus' birth in a stable would make it impossible for Him to influence the religious leaders, that Bethlehem was too far away from Jerusalem, and that the filthiness of the straw in the manger was not healthy for a newborn. God knows how to do things even when we do not understand what He is doing. That is what it means to trust. If everything made sense to us there would be no need for faith.

We are told to rejoice and give thanks in all things. Whether we like the circumstances of life or not, we are to find reasons to praise God and show that He is always wiser and more gracious than we can imagine. He always works things out for our good. We have so much to rejoice over at this time, and yet rather than rejoicing, we read much in the way of complaining, fretting, and criticizing. Think of the example that we are giving to the world and the rest of the Church. You each need to take a personal assessment and look at where your hearts are right now (and maybe some need to be going to confession soon). I have already encouraged people to behave in a manner that gives "joy and not . . . grief" to the Ordinary (cf. Heb 13:17), and I will do so again, for our Lord commands us to "rejoice always" and again I say "rejoice".

31 thoughts on “Joyful and Happy?”

  1. 'I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.' –Gilbert K. Chesterton

  2. your message is both practical and inspiring. thank you, Father and God bless you and everyone else embarking on this and in the future (and all those still wondering and waiting trying to discern God's will in this matter).

  3. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "Under the Vatican plan, St. Mary the Virgin Catholic Church in Arlington, a former Anglican parish that came into the diocese years ago under Fort Worth Bishop Joseph Delaney, will be part of the new group, Vann said."

    That is wonderful news. So both it and Our Lady of Walsingham are now part of the Ordinariate, along with any other individuals that have been in full communion with the Catholic Church and made a written request to join the Ordinariate. Our Lady of the Atonement is still waiting for permission. I take it that the members of the Anglican Use communities in other places that do not have their own church buildings that meet the eligibility requirements are members simply by submitting in writing their desire to join the Ordinariate, and I imagine their priest should not have many obstacles to be incardinated/excardinated if they are desirous of joining. So for the most part things are moving along very wonderfully.

    I caught only just the very tale end of a radio interview on the Catholic Channel with Fr. Hurd, only catching his closing prayer. Unfortunately Gus Lloyd then indicated that the Ordinariate would be based in Washington DC, which I assume was an error on Gus' part based upon Fr. Hurd and the official spokesperson Ms. Gibbs being based there.

    1. I do hope that by bringing up the public exchange between the two cardinals and the indication of Fr. Steenson that it was a planted question is not interpreted as being a "conspiracy theory". That in itself might be considered a rash judgment. My understanding of the Anglican Patrimony is that it includes a great deal of input on the part of the laity. I'd think then that questions raised regarding decisions would not be dismissed as being conspiracy theories and rash judgments. I am 100% behind the Ordinariate and rejoice heartily that it is now established. Perhaps I'm not entirely familiar with the concept of how input from the laity is supposed to work within it yet?

      1. This will positively be my last post on this subject.

        We have at hand too incontrovertible facts:

        1. The Anglican Use parishes have not (yet) been folded into the ordinariate;

        2. A question over whether such folding in required the consent of the local bishop (which it canonically does and should) was indeed raised and properly answered at the bishops' conference.

        If you were to limit yourself to looking forward to the incorporation of the Anglican Use parishes at some point in the near future, no one would accuse you of anything. Apparently such well-wishing isn't enough, and you find yourself compelled to aver without any substantive evidence that one or more bishops actually intend to refuse their consent out of some sort of postulated greed, malice or ill-will.

        The highly offensive, insulting and uncharitable ascription in this scenario of yours is the "conspiracy theory" to which other commenters here are alluding. The fact that the question may have been planted at the conference, and that you have met some nutty priest who himself admits that he is not in a position to influence the bishop's mind in the matter, do not constitute evidence for the type of charge you are raising..

        It may well be that in time evidence that actually supports your scenario will surface. Then again so may evidence that Obama is a serial child molester or that Elvis still walks among us. We can deal with it when it does. Until then, the “lay input” you have been offering is simply a tad short of being in any way responsible on the part of someone whose commitment to the success of the Ordinariate no one is questioning.

        Is it really too much to ask that we should await an authoritative pronouncement on the eventual fate of the Anglican Use parishes before discussing what evil motives are leading bishops to gut the project?

        1. "Nutty priest". You are referring to Fr. Stetson, the new Ordinary. He is the priest that I said I had asked about the exchange at the USCCB as he sat behind Cardinal Wuerl. Please be more respectful of the Ordinary.

            1. So Fr. Steenson was the "nutty" priest who said that, were he consulted, he would advise against releasing an Anglican Use parish to join the Ordinariate? You can't be serious.

            2. Fr. Steenson never said one way or the other what he would advise if he were consulted, and I never said he did. I said that he said the question had been planted when I asked why Cardinal Dinardo would ask such a question. I then asked if he was not asking for himself (and apparently not for Bishop Vann who has indicated that St. Mary the Virgin would be going into the Ordinariate), was he asking on behalf of Bishop Gustavo? He answered by asking how is the bishop. I then dropped the subject in my conversation with him, but now that he is the ordinary I would like to know if he would be working on behalf of bringing all of the Anglican Use parishes in. The only thing I have heard from Fr. Phillips on the issue is that permission has not been granted at this time. I've not heard anything yet as to Fr. Bergman in Stanton, or Fr. Davis in Kansas City. I'd expect they all have many members that may have already submitted their individual requests to be part of the Ordinariate, and it would seem that they will be so once their names are entered into the registry. Up until this point, I thought that all of these priests were planning to be incardinated into the ordinariate, though nothing has been said about them. I'd think Fr. Ramsey and Fr. Hawkins are likely to be since their parishes were given permission. Cardinal Wuerl and Fr. Hurd have been involved in the preparation for several months, is this issue suddenly a surprise? They were not able to exercise any influence over the few other bishops involved, and instead made it a public issue over live tv?

            3. Michael:
              Are you serious in your invention of statements about "nutty priests" in order to change serious questions into "conspiracy theories"?

            4. Daniel,

              I really want to step away from this argument but, as the waters appear to be muddied, I will make one last effort to spell out this issue.

              On 2 January you wrote:

              "I recently had a conversation with a parish priest in San Antonio, … he said if it were up to him he would advise the Archbishop to not let Our Lady of the Atonement parish to leave the diocese as it was such a treasure."

              This is the "nutty" priest I referred to as having been cited by you in support of your contention that one or more bishops intended to deny transfer to the Ordinariate of Anglican Use parishes under their jurisdiction. My own inclination would have been to interpret the priest's observation as a jest intended as a compliment to the parish in question. You, however, appear to have taken his remark in earnest. As you were there and I wasn't, I have to accept your word on this. As such, I would agree completely with the remark you then claim to have made in response:

              "I told him that in my opinion, that would be foolish advise (sic) as the treasure they provided belongs in the Ordinariate."

              It is because I agree with you that such advice would have been "foolish" that I felt free to refer to this unnamed priest as "nutty." If pushed, I would be willing to so describe him to his face (assuming again that his original remark had been intended in earnest). I can think of any number of legitimate reasons a bishop might have for denying a requested transfer, but this is not one of them.

              That said, I think it is fair to conclude from the priest's remarks (as cited by yourself) that the Archbishop had not sought, nor was expected to seek, this particular priest's advice in the matter; and that the priest himself had no knowledge of the Archbishop's own view on the issue.

              It may well be that I am according too much importance to this post of yours, but it is the only one that you have offered that clearly indicates that ANYONE (let alone a bishop) is opposed to the transfer of a particular Anglican Use parish to the Ordinariate at this time and on such absurdly self-interested grounds.

              We then come to your post of 3 January in which you ask of Cardinal Wuerl and Fr. Hurd "why… not convince your fellow (sic) bishops to let the Anglican Use parishes join the Ordinariate with their own church buildings?"

              You then follow up, citing "Rocco Palmer" (sic), with "a key element in the United States is having Anglican Use parishes aboard" and ask "Why can't the USCCB grasp this concept rather than announcing that the AU parishes won't automatically be transferred but will require the permission of their present bishop?"

              You will forgive me if I (and others) inferred from these remarks a claim on your part that some members of the USCCB did not "grasp this concept," and were actively opposing a transfer of Anglican Use parishes, and this for the sake of "treasure."

              If we should have construed a completely different intent on your part, you may seize this opportunity to correct us. Otherwise, I will stand by my observation that you have been indulging in conspiracy theories and peddling unsupported and uncharitable conjectures at the expense of unnamed bishops.

              The fact remains that exactly ZERO bishops are on record as opposing a transfer on any grounds whatsoever (though we can speculate that some might well wish to see a few outstanding issues with regards to material and personnel resources resolved first). A bit of clarification via a Q&A at the USCCB on the modalities for hypothetical transfers does not constitute evidence to the contrary.

              So, as others have remarked, given that we are only 4 days into the Ordinariate, can we give this implication of episcopal nefariousness a rest?

        2. I'm not sure where you came up with the "who himself admits that he is not in a position to influence the bishop's mind in the matter". I am talking about Fr. Steenson, who said no such thing in our conversation but rather changed the topic. Let's hope that now that he is the Ordinary he might generate some influence in the matter. Who are you talking about? It would seem rather uncharitable to refer to any priest as "nutty" as you have.

          1. How does a planted question equate to a conspiracy? A "planted" question simply places both a question and an answer on the record.

            1. I don't recall that I was the one that referred to it as a conspiracy. Bringing it up seems to have be accused of inventing conspiracy theories. A planted question in order to place it on the record would certain indicate that it was a planned question as well. I don't see why there would be any need to put the question on record if they did not anticipate there was a problem. It had an effect on only a few bishops, and two of those immediately gave their consent.

        3. Thank you for your explanation Michael. I've mentioned separate conversations with two different priests, and we seemed to have gotten them crossed. The one was a young newly ordained priest who I would not call "nutty", though his remarks were naive. I was merely referring to it to indicate that the treasure he referred to would seem to belong to the Personal Ordinariate. I own a Catholic bookstore and he and many seminarians and young priests drop in, and give great hope for the future. Many of them have visited Our Lady of the Atonement and have expressed their admiration for the reverence of the Liturgy, which is why I believe Pope Benedict may hope that the Anglican Patrimony might have a positive effect on the rest of the Church in a reform of the reform of the liturgy.

          The second was with Fr. Steenson. I've reported the conversation often enough. I had ran into him at Our Lady of Walsingham when we decided to attend Mass there while we were in Houston. I had thought that you were suggesting that he was the "nutty priest" that was not in a position to influence the bishop's mind. I would think he is, though I'm not sure what his position is after the conversation I had with him.

          If your opinion is that it may all have to do with material and personnel issues that caused the Cardinals two months ago to make a public point about a bishop needing to give permission for his parish to join when I would think that in such a case they should have kept it among themselves, you're welcome to that opinion. This is only the fourth day, but that conversation is two months old. It was reported on this blog two years ago that Archbishop Gomez had no difficulties, but he's not in charge any longer. If the present bishop also has no problems but the paperwork and that is why the Cardinals wanted to make the point that it would be up to the bishop, seems strange to me. I would hope that someone in authority might give that explanation, it doesn't seem they care to say anything about it themselves. We'll just have to go along with the idea that this is an issue that will be worked out in time I suppose. If you've been following this blog for any length of time I'd think you'd be surprised that people you thought would be part of it are not even mentioned. What had seemed to be worked out long ago now has people saying that after two years, do you expect it to be worked out in four days. Apparently these things can be worked out if you know the right people, nothing new there. Two parishes seem to have been announced as being part of the Ordinariate because they were in the dioceses of Bishop Vann and Cardinal DiNardo, who had no problems in getting things worked out. I suppose that other bishops need more time to study the implications of it all. Apparently this should be obvious that some might take longer than others, it might be a matter of a couple of days or a couple of years. No one can determine that at this point or at least is not able to say so as there are many other pressing problems.

      2. Daniel,

        After reading and attempting to respond rationally to your posts on this and the previous thread, I have to confess that I simply do not see what you are getting your knickers in a twist about.

        1. It is good pastoral practice both within and without the Ordiariate, for a person having the care of souls to consult before acting. This is increasingly done by encouraging the formation of pastoral councils. But heaven forbid that we get into the mess presently afflicting both the CofE and the TEC as a result of the abdication by the bishops of those communions of proper doctrinal and disciplinary jurisdiction to elected synods.

        2. The primary responsibility of our Fathers in God is the case of the souls entrusted to them. The diocesans have the present responsibility for the Anglican Use Parishes within their dioceses. The Ordinary will have responsibility for the care of the souls entrusted to him. After due reflection and consultation with those who have an interest – both priests and laity – of the parishes, missions or groups concerned (not mere busybodies), They will undoubtedly decide what is for the best. They may even not get it right first time around.

        3. It is not clear to me where you are coming from: (ie as a Catholic or a non-Catholic, if the former in an Anglican Use parish, or some other parish, if the latter whether intending to join the Ordinariate, or just someone who has a general interest in what you conceive to be Anglican Patrimony.

        4. So let's be quite clear – the Ordinariates are particularly tasked with preserving and developing those "elements" of Anglican Patrimony which are doctrinally sound and which will enrich the whole Church, not merely within formal Ordinariate structures. After one year, the UK experience has been positive with much cross-fertilisation, particularly on the liturgical front.

        5. I will say this: the level of enthusiasm for the Ordinariate adventure (for an adventure it surely is) will vary among the clergy (higher and lower). But His Holiness wants this to work and he has very wisely entrusted the supervision to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. Anyone who knows anything about what one might call "ecclesiastical politics" will tell you that that no bishop likes to get on the wrong side of that particular part of the Roman Curia. A mild expression of the Prefect's displeasure is likely to result in the recipient becoming prone to nightmares about the sudden nomination of a coadjutor or worse until the issue is resolved to the satisfaction of that most powerful of Papal Congregations.

        So whatever it is concerns you, may I again suggest that you possess yourself in patience until you have learned what decision is taken.

        To do otherwise might be seen by some as an abuse of the hospitality offered by this blog to those who wish to comment.

        1. Your answers have been partly rational, and partly dismissive. I'd prefer to actually be hearing about the answers from someone that uses a real name. I can't say that I can tell where you are coming from. I'm asking questions that it would seem quite reasonable, and there are people with no names talking about me referring to conspiracy theories. I don't see conspiracies but attitudes. It seemed at one time both Fr. Steenson and Fr. Hurd have made comments here, as it seems they do not do so any longer apparently I'll have to see if they ever provide answers elsewhere. It would seem there could be some transparency with them. I'm not sure if people with no names that sound as if they have inside knowledge do or do not. I can understand why some that might be pondering from outside might require some anonymity, I'm not sure why people that sound as if they might already be in the Catholic Church and have inside knowledge need the same. I appreciate the hospitality that Christian and some of the past contributors have shown. I was pretty much set to not press things a while back, but keep seeing references to how I have been uncharitable, a conspiracy theorist, etc. etc. If you are in need of keeping your identity hidden, fine. I will patiently await some response from those in charge that have actual names. I will try to ignore remarks from people that talk about having britches in a twist, "mere busybodies", and so forth. You have apparently offered rational explanations to all questions, though I perhaps missed one or two in the twist of things. Michael has cleared up for me the misunderstanding we seem to have had over which priest was being referred to as "nutty" by him.

  4. I am FULL of joy toward my fellow Latin Rite Catholics and my fellow English Catholics in the Ordinariate and those who will be quickly joining us (hopefully!). I presently work as a Pastoral Associate in Allegany County New York and have had nothing but encouragement from my brothers and sisters in Christ. Before working for the Church here I spent about a year after retiring from the Episcopal priesthood and becoming Catholic I moved to South Buffalo in semi-retirement. There I attended St. Josaphat's Church in Cheektowaga. I received nothing but support,priest and laity both encouraging me to seek ordination as an Ordinariate priest. For three years I have worked with a bi-ritual priest as he has supported me on my conversion journey.

    Rome granted me a nulla osta, I go for my Psychological exam next week. My wife and I head to Houston for initial training, prayer and fellowship along with my fellow applicants for Holy Orders at the end of January. How on God's green earth could I not be joyous? Or OVER JOYOUS? Thank you Benedict, Cardinal Wuerl, Fr. Hurd, Bishop Vann, Fr. Mancuso, Fr. Poblocki, Fr. DiMaria, my wife and children, and any and all the priests and laity that have so graciously accepted me (and us) in to their hearts and into their Church!!!!

    Hoo haw!!

    Yours in Christ, John Dale Josaphat Cornelius

    1. Congratulations! I'm curious if you had any discussions with Archbishop Myer's Pastoral Provision office (now under Bishop Vann)? Their education is handled in NJ and geared for those that are interested in becoming a diocesan priest. Is there an ordinariate bound community in Buffalo?

      1. It is a very good idea to have from the start in the ordinariate a number of Priests not linked to a community, those who have crossed the Tiber-bridge alone, in order to provide them to communities that don't have a Priest and need one because of their tremendous growth over the last months. For example St Thomas in Washington, St Augustine in Springfield… And also for planting new congregations in big cities.
        Thinking along the lines of ACNA's successful "planting 1000 Churches in 10 years" plan, the ordinariate should have a "beeing present in each US' state in 10 years" plan.

        + PAX et BONUM

        1. Yes, I had seriously thought about the Pastoral Provision, but really felt called to come back to my home area and to test my call to become an Ordinariate priest. You know, I like using the term "English Catholic". I have had a ton of explaining to do about the Ordinariate in the Buffalo Diocese because the people here have no idea what it is. (They are beginning to, however! Just can't quit talking about it!))

          I explained to one parishioner that was confused about the term "Anglican" that if he thought of the term "English Catholic" it might be easier for him. I said that Henry VIII had ripped the English Catholic Church away from Mother Church 500 years ago. On the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God, Benedict the XVI plugged it back in.

          One more thing about the Personal Ordinariate. When looking into it I had called the Diocese of Albany to see if the Bishop would allow a PO priest in his Diocese. I was told by whatever person answered the phone that "No! Never! The Bishop realizes there are priests in the Diocese who would like to be married!"

          Hmmmm. THAT is an attitude and topic for another time!

          1. Thank you for responding to my question. I would have liked to have heard what Bishop Vann said as the new bishop in charge at the press conference, but there seems to be no record of it so far and the pastoral provision website has been taken down.

          2. Bishop Hubbard of Albany might be the last surviving active bishop appointed by Pope Paul VI. He will be reaching the mandatory retirement age in just over a year.

          3. I just realized I had misread what you said, thinking you had said that Bishop Hubbard did not want any Pastoral Provision priests. You had actually said he did not want any Personal Ordinariate priests. I imagine the response would have been the same over the Pastoral Provision as you would have been a diocesan priest of his.

          4. For the record, I agree that it shows an attitude that is not uncommon and is no indication of a conspiracy.

  5. Dear Fr Seriah,

    I wholeheartedly agree and you, along with all future members of the Ordinariate, will be remembered both at the Altar and in my private prayers.

  6. Does anyone know of any planned media events? I did not know that Fr. Hurd was going to be interviewed on the "Seize the Day" Catholic Channel this morning and only happened to catch the very last few words. Will Fr. Steenson be showing up on "The World Over" or "Journey Home" on EWTN or any other programs that are coming up.

  7. Father Seraiah, thank you for your guidance.

    It seems that we often hear the most from the complainers and hyper-organizers since complaining loudly and over-managing things is what they do best. I see this in church organizations, corporations and families.

    That being said, there are many more "out here" who are overjoyed. My wife and I are lifelong Catholics yet we have been longing for this moment because of the absence of the beautiful Anglican Patrimony to the Church in our own spiritual lives. Thanks to people like you, we too can enjoy this beautiful tradition within the confines of our family – the Catholic Faith – in union with some of our heroes such as St. Thomas More and St. Thomas a Becket. Our family loves the tradition of Evensong and my one daughter told me that the aesthetics of the English Gothic chapels create a place where one wants "to be". I agree heartily!

    My joy is nearly uncontainable and I am so thankful for the establishment of the Ordinariate. We will continue to pray to St. Peter and Our Lady of Walsingham for its apostolate and the many souls who will benefit; those coming in from the Anglican path and those already in the Church who are enriched by the traditions and customs that our friends are bringing back to us.

    Thank you and God bless,
    Dan Hoffman

  8. I'm am happy for the new Ordinariate and I'm not Anglo-Catholic. Y'all should be happy and joyful! I've asked before without answer – are there any Churches in Tennessee, Alabama or Mississippi?

  9. Time to stop. The tenor of some of the comments above were the very thing I was trying to discourage with this post. Very disappointing.

    Thank you to all who commented joyfully!

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