Ordinary Time?

Monday of the fifth week of Ordinary Time (memorial of St Paul Miki and his companions, Martyrs), that is to say February 6th 2012, is the fiftieth 60th anniversary of the death of King George VI. It is therefore also the 50th 60th anniversary of the Queen's Accession. But because February is a pretty grim month, the celebrations will be held over until the summer. Making February that much more grim this year is the Westminster Session of the General Synod of the Church of England, also scheduled to begin on Monday 6th. This promises to be four days of anything but Ordinary Time.

A draft Agenda has now been published on the official C of E website. For anyone who cares for the Church of England, and especially for its Anglo-Catholic rump, it would make a good calendar for four days of prayer. The first day (or rather half-day, beginning after lunch) is as usual just official business to be got out of the way, though perhaps the Loyal Address will be more worthwhile than usual, bearing in mind the date. Perhaps prayer will be said for the repose of the soul of His Late Majesty.

The real matter of the Synod starts on Tuesday 7th. From 2.30pm there is to be a presentation of the Draft Code of Practice regarding Women to the Episcopate, with questions following. That exercise in squaring the circle, making it clear that women who are ordained as bishops really are bishops with all the authority of their office —  yet somehow allowing those who do not accept them as bishops to continue to live as though they did not exist — promises to be a fascinating time of prestidigitation. It will be an exceptionally worrying time for our brothers and sisters who want to be able still to say with integrity that "the Church of England is part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church".

The next day looks like being especially lively. On Tuesday there will have been just two and a half hours for the subject but on Wednesday there will be a much longer time for debate: Except for the few minutes of a report on Standing Orders and a brief time for evening prayer the Synod will debate Women in the Episcopate from 2.30pm until 7pm. During this they will consider a diocesan motion from Manchester and another, much less friendly to Anglo-Catholics, from Southwark.

On Thursday morning, once further additional eucharistic prayers have been considered, 'Women in the Episcopate' will reach its final drafting stage before becoming law. That is unless in some way (perhaps by a failure to obtain a two-thirds majority in each House) the whole thing is put off for another five years.

It is sad to be bringing all this to your attention just as everyone is so excited at the establishment of the American Ordinariate. For us in England, though, it is of great importance. One way or another, it will affect how the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham develops over the next few years. Either it will speed its growth (as I pray it will) or it will provide yet one more line in the sand for the survivors of the Anglo-Catholic Movement to hide behind. They will be waiting once more as many of us have done in the past for something to turn up. So, friends, pray for the Synod, and especially for those who are trying to retain in the C of E a few shreds of its catholic past.

Author: Fr. Edwin Barnes

Bishop Barnes read theology for three years at Oxford before finishing his studies at Cuddesdon College (at the time a theological college with a rather monastic character). He subsequently served two urban curacies in Portsmouth and Woking. During his first curacy, and after the statutory three years of celibacy, he married his wife Jane (with whom he has two children, Nicola and Matthew). In 1967, Bishop Barnes received his first incumbency as Rector of Farncombe in the Diocese of Guildford. After eleven years, the family moved to Hessle, in the Diocese of York, for another nine years as vicar. In 1987, he became Principal of St Stephen’s House, Oxford. In 1995, he was asked by then Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, to become the second PEV for the Province. He was based in St. Alban’s and charged with ministering to faithful Anglo-Catholics spread over the length of Southern England, from the Humber Estuary to the Channel Islands. After six years of service as a PEV, Bishop Barnes retired to Lymington on the south coast where he holds the Bishop of Winchester’s license as an honorary assistant bishop. On the retirement of the late and much lamented Bishop Eric Kemp, he was honored to be asked to succeed him as President of the Church Union. Both these appointments he resigned on becoming a Catholic in 2010. Fr. Barnes is now a priest of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, caring for an Ordinariate Group in Southbourne, Bournemouth.

30 thoughts on “Ordinary Time?”

    1. Indeed. Tempus fugit. The golden jubilee for HM was in 2002. I have a coffee mug to prove it! 😉 Regardless, I'll definitely be praying for Fr Barnes intentions.

      1. I love Her Majesty and am her loyal Canadian subject. Nonetheless, I do hope that Her Majesty will wear the Imperial State Crown for the celebration (perhaps for the anniversary of the corontion, in 2013) and not one of those hats. The hats make a royal event look like a visit to a flower shop.


  1. > Either it will speed its growth (as I pray it will) or it will provide yet one more line in the sand for the survivors of the Anglo-Catholic Movement to hide behind. They will be waiting once more as many of us have done in the past for something to turn up.

    Why is now (or in a few months more precisly) the time for them? How can this be reconciled with your and your fellow former PEVs' waiting years/decades–even till the last minute–to cross the Tiber? What is the "line in the sand" that makes crossing now so morally important but allowed for leniency prior to this? Sure, bishopettes are a pretty big deal but they are simply one in a long tradition of them; further, it is unclear how this could be the line in the sand given that this ship had sailed upon the ordination of women.

    Let us extend the same graciousness and patience to these fellows who remain as we extended to you and your colleagues in the flying episcopate! Let us put them on no timetables but their own!

    1. Without criticising the timing of anyone, I agree that while AC is a group invitation, it is accepted by individuals. Objectively we can wonder how anyone can continue do bide their time, but ultimately when to take the plunge is between the individual and God. There are so many reasons why someone might not be ready, and it can't be attributed exclusively to willful blindness to the reality of the CofE situation.

      1. All the more reason to make the ordinariates more palatable in terms of liturgy. Some Anglicans will not want to abandon the prayerbook tradition to embrace the Novus Ordo Missæ, no matter how gloriously celebrated. Form and content should match and will do so. That is why it is so rare to find a Novus Ordo Mass celebrated entirely in Latin.


    2. You are partly right, Ben. As I said in my piece, many of us waited Micawber-like for something to tun up. We thought the CofE meant it when it said we were in a 'time of discernment', and that the whole business of women's ordination could be proved wrong, and reversed. But it does seem as though this time the line in the sand will be up against the cliff face, and no refuge will be left. Women in the episcopate will surely be an irreversible step.

    3. "What is the line in the sand that makes crossing the Tiber so morally important now…"

      I understand how you might feel this way, and for those of us who have come to Rome for a greater Catholic unity, it's important that it isn't simply over all the difficult points of contention that we have been fighting over, within Anglicanism, over the past 40 years and more.
      Having been a lifelong Anglican, I was pleased for many years to be very much involved in my parish, at least where liturgy, education, and manual labor were concerned. I stayed out of the political workings, and hoped for the best. I thought, perhaps, that we would somehow find our way forward, i.e. parish movement to RCC, union with continuers, etc. My wife and I have always practiced the Faith in a rather disciplined and catholic minded expression; however, we felt more and more isolated when, as time dragged on, and we continued to teach the Faith of "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church," we sensed a certain ambiguous challenge and lack of positive oversight. Apparently, this is after all what is becoming of the State Church of England–rather like, "Who Cares?" Why should people be compelled to join the State Church, when its "teaching" is, at least ambiguous or closely held by the well-to-do?

      Say what you will, In the Roman Communion we have a focus of faith which is dependable and accessible. Our style of worship and devotional opportunities are welcome. Our Faith, Hope, and Charity are not "sort of, good," they are expected.

      and…O yes, it's a different "culture" here…but for the most part, I'm very thankful to God for that too."

  2. The tragedy here is the loss of Catholic identity for the Church of England which will make this ecclesial community much poorer. But the Ordinariates are there to ensure that that a part of this distinct identity survives in the Roman Church in its fullest sense.

    1. I do feel sad for the CofE's loss, but it's hard to do so when I'm so overjoyed at the gifts being given to us Romans. We sent out a lifeboat and are receiving a treasure-laden ship in return!

    2. I am wondering if some members of the Royal family might eventually join the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. The Duchess of Kent and others are Catholic. I believe that most of their children are too.


      1. That would sure be helpful to the Ordinariate. I wonder if they would be so inclined or are happy where they are, especially the "cradle" Catholics among them.

  3. 'Ordinary Time' is for the Ordinary Rite of Mass (and others using the New Lectionary). All is rather ordinary there. In the Traditional Rite, there is no ordinary time and nothing ordinary about any Mass.

    This year, to mark Accession Day for Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee, on Monday, 6th February, there will be a special Votive Mass of Thanksgiving in my Latin Mass community. Members of the Monarchist League of Canada will be given notice of it, whether they be Catholic or not. I thank God frequently that I do not live in a wretched republic. Long live the Queen!

    Victoria, B.C., Canada

    1. Please watch who and what you call wretched — even if in jest. Thank you very much. I know that you have no love lost for that which doesn't fit your worldview, but I would expect someone in your position to act as a gentleman. Please strive a bit more to attain that goal. One can extol the virtues of monarchy and the Dominion in which you reside without disparaging those to the south who consider you friends, despite have a few bones to pick concerning the way Canada handles its affairs (as if it our business what you do or your business what we do). Take this as friendly advice from the past president of the Society of the Sons of St. George of Philadelphia.

      1. I get a kick in the gut almost each time PKTP posts, but I am reasonably sure it is hypothetical "wretched" Canadian republicanism he is referring to rather than your variety.

        1. God Save the Queen. We also loathe the idea of a republic down here in Australia. I recently attended the Big Barbecue with the Queen and Duke here in Perth with about 150,000 other Western Australians. did you notice that the Queen showed a Catholic primary school nativity play in her Christmas Message. I think she is a bit fed up with the present Church of England.

  4. In terms of Fr. Barnes' comments on Synod, I am reminded of Will Rogers' comment from the American context "congress is in session: no one is safe" !

  5. The signals from Rome toward Anglicans have not always been earthy and gracious, but it's about time we get over our stubbornness and suspicions about them. As we hold on, desperately, to an expression of the Faith which has become increasingly individualistic and isolated, the Holy Father has given us a wonderful opportunity to share the traditional Faith, and to worship with over a billion (and more) like-minded folks, from all over the planet.

  6. A Code of Practice will not do? It looks as if a Code of Practice will just have to do. I notice that having conspicuously failed to follow his Southern confreres across the Tiber the Bishop of Beverley is now marching bravely into retirement. That appears to be symbolic of the future of the Catholic movement in the Church of England.

  7. After this post I hesitated about the final form of the Southwark motion. Thanks to Fr Andrew Stevens, I am now able to give it as the Southwark Synod approved it::
    "That this Synod,
    (a) noting the significant support the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure has received in the Houses of Bishops, Clergy and Laity of diocesan synods; and
    (b) desiring that the draft Measure be returned to the Synod for consideration on the Final Approval Stage substantially unamended so that it can be seen if the proposals embodied in it in the form in which it has been referred to the dioceses can attain the level of support required to achieve Final Approval

    request the House of Bishops not to exercise its power under Standing Order 60(b) to amend the draft Measure. "

    Should this amended diocesan motion be the one finally accepted by the General Synod, the matter will STILL not be concluded, for legislation has to receive a two thirds majority in each of the three Houses of Synod. If this majority is not achieved, then it will be back to limbo for the catholics in synod, still waiting for the final blow to ensure women's consecration goes ahead, hoping against hope for something to turn up. So there are just four weeks in which we should all pray for the poor beleagured Church of England.

    Meanwhile the Manchester motion tries to bring back the proposal by the Archbishops, which was defeated last time round – it is unlikely to be accepted this time, I fancy.

    1. Fr Edwin

      Am I not right in thinking that while Synod will discuss the Manchester and Southwark amendments they cannot ultimately decide upon them?

      I understood that the House of Bishops may choose to amend the measure to be brought before the July Synod which would then have to decide to accept or reject the measure bought before it.

      Not that I believe anything helpful to our former colleagues and people is likely to come of it…

      1. I guess you are right on both scores, Father; first that it will be for the House of Bishops to determine the final form of the measure, and then that nothing very helpful will come of that.

        Of course there is always the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament; they were very helpful in '92; most of them now want nothing but a one-clause measure… and this is a 'conservative' administration!

  8. At last! Someone who uses "line in the sand" correctly and idiomatically to mean "a line that shifts with the wind" rather than "hier stehe ich".
    With prayers, former student of Fr Crouse, UKC (Halifax) alumnus '82, current Jesuit

  9. In the days, long ago, when I was an Anglo-Catholic I believed that it was the only authentic interpretation of the Church of England and that, in time, its tenets would pervade the entire body. The success of Anglo-Catholicism in the Commonwealth, untrammelled by Parliament, supported this view. Many clergymen of my acquaintance believed that they were 'catholicising from within' in order to achieve corporate reunion with Rome. Corporate meant the entire body, not a faction within it. What caused the scales to fall from my eyes were not ventures like the Church of South India but the realisation that Anglo-Catholicism from the beginning was a self-authenticating tradition with a congregational identity dependent upon the initiative of individuals rather than corporate identity.

    After denouement following denouement in which Catholic identity was entirely eroded, only sacramental congregationalism survives, bereft of authority and ecclesiology. For those who stay, there is no Catholic identity to preserve, merely congregational preference with no stable foundations. Some clergymen with Catholic convictions do not accept Rome's claims. As Henry Brandreth used wryly to observe, 'What the Church of England does wrong does not make Rome right.' But I came to see this as evidence of inanition. It holds even less water now than it did because Catholic order has been radically undermined throughout the Anglican Communion at large as well as the parent body. Systematic Catholicisim is repudiated and resented comprehensively by a body that once embraced it.

    Anglicans can only accept Anglo-Catholic principle as a matter of choice rather than conviction these days. There will continue to be ordinands and laymen who like it for its trappings, atmosphere and exclusiveness. Choice lies at the heart of a self-authenticating tradition, but it is also the mother of heresy. Catholicism implies the acceptance of what was given by Christ and developed through time. Individual parishes and places are reinforced by their own traditions – take Walsingham for instance – but these are little better than idiosynratic customs operating on a parasitic basis. They have become rockpools in an alien body. Nevertheless, these factors don't bother many heads, pretty or otherwise. While St Mary's, Bourne Street, for instance, remains outwardly the same who cares what the clergymen who serve it actually think and believe? Wasn't it Cardinal Manning who coined the term 'the Mass in masquerade'?

    I am praying that all who are touched by Catholicism and remain in the Anglican Communion will recognise their true home. But for those who wilfully stay for whatever reason, I suggest that they shut up and accept what they have, female clerics and all, as the current expression of Anglicanism. They are a dying breed and within a generation I suspect they will have disappeared, or been transmuted into even greater caricature. Externals no longer represent doctrinal conviction but are purely a matter of choice in the furtherance of ornamental worhsip.

  10. Those who have not read it would do well to read Geoffrey Kirk's valedictory "the Way We Live Now" article in the January 2012 issue of New Directions:


    It is his explicit valedictory to his being a regular contributor to *New Directions* for many years, and his implicit valedictory address to Anglo-Catholicism within the Church of England. June 29, 2012 will be the fortieth anniversary of his ordination in the Church of England; readers would be well-advised to "watch that date."

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