I Wish I Had Known It Would Be Like This!

"I wish I had known it would be like this!"  That's what I wrote last April to someone who also made this similarly arduous journey into the Catholic Church as part of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada.  I wish I had known how it was going to be when we were actually received into the Catholic Church because this might have spared me such disappointment and anguish over the previous year.  As most of you know from my complaints and dismay expressed publicly from time to time, I sure felt as if Cardinal Kasper's words regarding the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) — "the train has already left the station" — applied to us, that we were the chopped liver of Ordinariate applicants, treated like second class citizens, that really only those from the Canterbury Communion need apply and so on.

Yes, I hoped for a much more corporate approach to our reception than the parish by parish model that in effect disintegrated the ecclesial bonds we had enjoyed in the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada and forced us to walk away from considerable assets for a poor group like ourselves in terms of wills and trusts.  I still think that Rome could have handled this aspect better and maybe we would not have lost so many people.

But it is what it is.  And while we are so much smaller, a remnant of the 700 Canadian communicants there were when we first reported our numbers to the Catholic Church, but  those who remain are more united, more bonded.  As my grandfather always used to say, "Everything always works out for the best."  Who knows?  Maybe some of the people we lost will come back eventually.  I hope so.

So what I am I trying to say here?

I really want to avoid anything that is going to look preachy in smugly telling people to be patient and not fret.  I used to get annoyed from time to time back in the day at pep talk posts that seemed to be saying my attitude was the problem when all I saw was alarming and hurtful and it felt like I was being admonished to close my eyes to injustice.


Things did not work out the way I expected them to and adjusting my expectations and accepting the disappointment was difficult.  Experiencing the disintegration of the Traditional Anglican Communion was awful.  Watching Archbishop John Hepworth's trials, I found agonizing.

I reached a point where I was really wondering if I could become Catholic.  All I could see were the Church's flaws. I wanted to flee to a simpler, more direct personal relationship with Jesus Christ like I'd experienced as an evangelical.

But once our bishops and clergy decided to join the Catholic Church with no conditions, without a nulla osta in sight, things suddenly changed for us.  The welcome and generosity we have experienced has been amazing.  The sense of constant spiritual attack also lifted.  It's been a honeymoon of grace since last January when the request was made to come in in April.

The generosity comes not only from our local bishops but also from the Ordinariate.

We in Canada have had a good experience of our Ordinary Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson and have found him accessible and attentive to our concerns.

I wonder, though, whether in the United States there is a disappointment concerning the Anglican Use parishes, particularly Our Lady of the Atonement (OLA), and their apparent lack of a role in the new Ordinariate.

I don't think I'm the only one who envisioned the Anglican Use parishes being the spine of the U.S. Ordinariate, providing it with an initial stability and income that no other country would have.  So, I can understand there might be some dismay that OLA, the first and most successful Anglican Use parish, is not part of it, even if we do not know all the reasons behind its withdrawal.

This morning, I saw a comment on another blog that indicated some Traditional Anglican Communion parishes in the United States feel like they and their clergy are being left on the platform as the Ordinariate train rolls by.

One thing that wise correspondent told me in response to my "I wish I had known that it would be like this" was something to the effect that maybe, in some mysterious way, the suffering and anguish contributed to the good result we are experiencing now.

"It changed you, no?"

Well, it did force me to pray.  Suffering is like that.  But it was risky because I was so tempted to bitterness, which is not my usual besetting sin.  It was like getting hit with a craving for gambling, which I am so not interested in!

Given how bleak things looked even a year ago for us, I wonder what things will look like two years from now for those in the United States who are feeling left out or who have concerns now about how things are taking shape.  Maybe Our Lady of the Atonement, will be safely and happily part of the Ordinariate and those communities that feel left behind at the station will have been gathered in.  We can pray for that result.

I ask, too, that if you comment about disappointments or concerns, that you take a measured tone.  There is much going on in the Ordinariate that is behind the scenes but progress is being made.  Maybe not on our timetable or unfolding as we expected, but it will, we can all hope and pray, work out for the best.

Meanwhile, we can expect that there will be lots of turbulence and spiritual warfare attacking any moves towards greater Christian unity.  It used to help me when I recognized that some of what I was feeling was spiritual attack.  The other thing that helped was to know that everything that was happening was still under God's watchful eye and Providence.  Jesus was allowing this to happen and was I going to kick against Him?

So, I hope those who are outside and wondering why things are not going faster or more smoothly will know that I am with you in your suffering.  This kind of travailing is compared to labor pains for a reason.  But there are many reasons for hope and thanksgiving, too.

I hope someday you too will be saying like I am now, "I wish I had known it would be like this!"

Author: Deborah Gyapong

Deborah Gyapong is a member of the Sodality of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (www.annunciationofthebvm.org) in Ottawa, a former parish of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (Traditional Anglican Communion) whose members were received individually and corporately into the Roman Catholic Church on April 15, 2012 by Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast at St. Patrick’s Basilica. Under the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, the community will celebrate an approved Anglican Use liturgy and hopes to soon join with other sodalities across Canada to form the Canadian Deanery of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter under Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary. As we wait for our priest(s) to be ordained as Catholic priests, God willing, Archbishop Prendergast will provide priests to celebrate our Sunday Eucharist according to the Anglican Use. Deborah is a journalist who covers religion and politics in Canada’s national capital, writing primarily for Roman Catholic newspapers since 2004. Her novel The Defilers, published in 2006, was not a best seller, alas. She spent 17 years at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in news and current affairs, including 12 years as a television producer.

27 thoughts on “I Wish I Had Known It Would Be Like This!”

  1. Meanwhile, the FiF-led committees are now preparing new texts: a new Customary parts of which are composed by Msgr. Burnham and his FiF friends instead of preserved from the prayerbooks. The excuse is that different national prayerbooks have different formulations. They should have simply chosen the 1662, the parent one for the others, and stuck with it.

    At the same time, the King James gold standard for the lections has been replaced with a 2nd edn. of the R.S.V. in non-sacral English for the Mass. Already, we are seeing neo-con false arguments used to justify this: oh, the R.S.V. is more accurate! But it is not about accuracy and it never was. Mass is a spiritual exercise, not an intellectual one. If you want to become an amateur Biblical scholar,. go home after Mass, and read the various 'expert' translations. If you want to become more serious at it, learn Hellenistic Greek and read the Septuagint while others play ping pong on Saturday afternoons.

    The King James Bible is a cultural treasure of incalculable value. It is one of the formative texts of English and for English culture. Its sonorous phrases are essential to the patrimony mentioned by Benedict XVI in "Anglicanorum Cœtibus". Ditching it for the R.S.V. in non-sacral English is a crime, and those who are responsible for the change count as cultural and spiritual criminals.

    At my Latin Mass, there is a single individual in our community who wants to hear the lections repeated in the vernacular from the pulpit (as is done at many Latin Masses). Everyone else in our community is dead set against this–to a man and to a woman. Of course, in this battle between one troublemaker and the rest of the community, I have to fight a running battle to stop the troublemaker from winning. One argument I can use is that, should we include English translations, they will be dumbed down by Rome once we have adopted them. I used to have one proof: the replacement of the 1958 translation of the Ukrainian Byzantine Divine Liturgy by a new one in conversational English. I now have a second example. Before the ordinariates are even up and running, the anti-traditionalist neo-conservatives are already in there tinkering with the Anglican patrimony. They will never stop.

    Welcome home to Rome, former TACers, where war is the norm, in season and out, and where traditionalists are persecuted by liberals on the left and by neo-conservatives on the right. Even when we have the numbers, they always win. They win because it is illegal for them to lose.


      1. I'll tell you what, Conchur. Let's have two approved lectionaries (after all, there are five or six approved versions of the lections for the T.L.M.). Then each ordinariate priest can choose the one he prefers instead of having the R.S.V. shoved down his throat.


    1. The most annoying thing about the very annoying Mr P is that he is often right.

      Not to have the AV as the default for the Scriptures unravels all the careful work put into the English Missal, Anglican Breviary, and hundreds of other devotional books at the heart of the Anglican Patrimony. Nobody used the RSV in these, and for good reason.

      George Saintsbury (A History of English Prosody) has an excellent section on how the RSV fails to retain the traditional clausulae that the AV magnificently used (or created) for English prose. These chime rhythmically and stylistically with Cranmer and the long tradition of "Tudorbethan" pastiche in which English spirituality and liturgy were couched (and which relate to Shakespeare, the summit of English poetry and drama.)

      If one takes this central pillar away, I don't really understand what it is that we're so eager to preserve. Tea after mass? Victorian hymns?

      If one has to have a bowdlerized mid-(20th)-century, middle-of-the-road liturgy, I'd rather suffer the improved novus ordo or seek out an EF mass, frankly. Particularly as here in Chicago there does not seem to be much interest in the Ordinariate and there is a healthy traditionalist movement.

      1. Dear Austin:

        I could name (but obviously wll not) one ordinariate priest who is already fed up with this and now seeks to attach himself to the Traditional Latin Mass. It is so sad. He should stay with the Anglican Use and help to keep it beautiful.


        1. Just to clarify my last post, I was not referring to any former TAC priest who is local but one with whom I am in e-mail contact.


    2. In the midst of these ruminations about the aesthetic superiority of the King James Bible one critical fact is omitted.
      The Revised Standard Version is an infinitely more accurate translation of scripture and conveys its truth with greater profundity than Shakespearian English.

      1. Infinitely, indeed? How did anyone learn anything about the faith from such an inadequate resource, one wonders?

        Accuracy, often in the eye of the beholder, does not trump tradition, aesthetic qualities, or liturgical aptness.

  2. Deborah Gyapong said: "I ask, too, that if you comment about disappointments or concerns, that you take a measured tone."
    Peter Perkins said: "Welcome home to Rome, former TACers, where war is the norm, in season and out, and where traditionalists are persecuted by liberals on the left and by neo-conservatives on the right."
    Thanks, Mr Perkins, for your measured tone. As was to be expected…

    1. Well it may not have been measured but it was leavened with a little humour. Too often a legitimate point will be censored by using the excuse of tone. What's at stake here is rather large. If the King James Bible is to be set aside and the prayerbooks are to be 'arranged' and even re-composed, perhaps even, eventually, by budding Bugninis, what will be left of the Anglican patrimony recommended and encouraged by Pope Benedict XVI? The instinct of traditionalists is one of conservation and preservation, not experimentation and abolition of what is inherited. The liberals in the 1960s in the Latin Church had a saying: The Liturgy is a permanent workshop. We do not agree! The King James Bible (and the 1662 Prayerbood) are formative in English culture. We don't replace Shakespeare's texts with more 'accessible' translations. We don't stow the treasure in an old storeroom and replace it with an on-the-spot product. Again, I have no objection (how could I?) to people who want to read the R.S.V. in non-sacral English on Saturday afternoons, while sipping lemonade. Let them even learn Late Latin to read the Vulgate, Hellenistic Greek to read the Septuagint, and Hebrew above all. But the King James Version (A.V.) goes with the hymnody and the vestments and the entire architecture of a patrimony; it is a whole. Even if something else is to be allowed in its place as an option, it should not, it must not, be forbidden. If there must be a few tiny corrections made on grounds of Protestant or other colourings, so be it. But let it stand.

      Msgr. Burnham is now arranging the texts for Marriage and funerals. LIke Annibale Bugnini before him, he is assisted by a committee. Meanwhile, Bishop Peter Elliott tells us that he now sits on a committee which will amend the 1983 Anglican Use. He makes it public: we shall include bits from the prayerbooks, from the Traditional Roman Mass and also (!) from the New Roman Mass. I would like to suggest that there is little new in the New Roman Mass which 'fits' the ethos of the Anglican patrimony, a patrimony that was developed out of the Roman Rite long before Chenu and Schillebeeckx, Rahner and Bugnini, were born.. Perhaps I am wrong.

      All of this concerns me. Pope Benedict XVI asked that the Anglican patrimony be respected, preserved and fostered. A patrimony, by definition, is something one receives, not something one invents, tranforms, or concocts.


      1. For one who claims to be an undilited, pre-Vatican II Catholic, PKTP, you appear to forget that you are, in your recent posts, promoting Protestant rites and translations forgetting the problems they bring to a Catholic setting. Members of the Ordinariate are beginning to realise how Protestant the official formularies of the Church of England are and how difficult to reconcile with Catholicism. No amount of masking by the use of incense and splendid vestments can conceal this for very long which is why so many used the Novus Ordo in their Anglican days.

        1. That is not why so many used the Novus Ordo — that was a decision to follow the current usage of the Western Church.

          There were many reasonably successful ways to skirt the Protestantism of the Anglican rite. They certainly worked for me. Apart from the BCP with Catholic add-ons, which was pretty widespread, many AC parishes used the English Missal, a few the old Tridentine rite, and, around the world, variants such as the South African Prayer book more susceptible to Catholic interpretation. Only in England was there this Novus Ordo tendency that, with good intentions, followed Rome into the liturgical swamp.

  3. Related to this entire subject, I also worry a bit about leaders emerging in this new world of the ordinariate, the smallest province in the Catholic Empire. There is always the danger that confident experts, steeped in liturgical knowledge, will finally find their calling. Finally! They find a new oasis, a potential tabula rasa, at which they can clear away the established culture of centuries, often composed by 'fond men', and replace it with the amazing product of their own staggering brililance. The result can be glorious indeed. Just think of the New Roman Mass.

    Oh, I'm sorry. My tone is not quite right in this post.


  4. Dear Mr Perkins,

    What a character you are! Always lamenting and despairing as if God were not in the picture? I must say though, that it's gets a little wearing especially if your a bit down. I wonder did it ever occur to you that all this complaint and negativity however true at the expense of the many good things might turn people away from the Church because the picture you paint is so depressing.

    In truth the Mystical Body of Christ despite it's human membership remains perfect and incorrupt. Anglican Patrimony however has the antidote for those who have lost sight of the beauty of the church in the famous setting of "I was Glad" by Sir Hubert Parry – what confidence and comfort this rendering of the psalm achieves how fitting for the Church at unity in itself. But most consoling of all is the cry and even acclamation; "Peace! Peace be in thy walls".

    As a long standing traditionalist dedicated to the restoration of Traditional Liturgy (both Roman and Non-Roman), and having been involved in founding a significant traditional community which is now thriving, and having thrown myself into training choirs and clergy in the celebration of the solemn form of the rite – and worked continuously to promote the divine office – in short engaged in so much positive work. I wonder where there is so much work to be done on restoration that there is time for this constant criticism of others?

    If the Ordinariates are in any way like the rest of the Catholic Church – it is going to have people who are liturgical traditionalists and those who are liturgically indifferent or even modern – clearly the catholic Anglicans of the UK where accustomed to the previous Roman Missal so this new use is a return – perhaps there will be approved versions for those who want to use the 1662 – but all in good time… Rome wasn't build in a day you know…?

    In Domino

    1. I get the feeling that the very few objectionable translations of the King James, which might have gotten past its original Catholic editor, could be corrected or patched by reference to the Douay-Rheims. Not much of an excuse for ditching a cultural landmark.


    2. Sybil:

      This is all very interesting but I wonder how many here have reflected adequately on the enormity of what is being done in the ordinariates. Ditch the King James Bible for a 2nd edn. R.S.V. in non-sacral English? One might as well ditch the musical canon of Bach for the bubblegum music of the 1960s. The King James Bible is the single most important text in the English language. It has had more influence than any other. Its felicitous expressions are unmatched. They are what has made English what it is, with all its beauties and faults. It not only reflects that culture and patrimony; it has formed it. I find it hard to imagine parallels to this removal. An abolition of this sort effectively divorces the liturgy of the ordinariates from the very font of the culture and patrimony they claim to conserve. Words fail on this occasion, and it is precisely the failure of words that is the subject here.

      Fr. Phillips had written that the 1983 A.U. allowed the use of the 1st edn. R.S.V. and the Jerusalem Bible. I believe he named one other version. Can anyone remember what that was? I wonder if it even matters, as he and others 'scramble' to replace the King James gold standard with a readers' version on the specious grounds of accuracy, as if attendance at Mass or Office were primarily an exercise in precise Scriptural hermeneutics. No, it is not. When ordinary people from every walk of life attend the Mass or Office they are not there to reflect on precise meanings from ancient texts. Their attendance connects them to an entire ethos and worldview. In a flash, it's gone. It is gone faster than it takes Cardinal Levada the time he needs to fly from Rome to San Francisco. It's all in a day's work. I am beginning to wonder what exactly the ordinariates are there to preserve. The bunfight in the hall?


      1. RSV (Catholic Edition), the New American Bible, and the Jerusalem Bible, according to the preamble to The Holy Eucharist in the BDW.

  5. Deborah, when I was young a phrase often on the lips of Anglo-Catholics was 'Scratch an Anglican and you will find a Protestant', I firmly believe that this still applies,not least in the Catholic wing of Anglicanism. Despite the rhetoric on 'corporate reunion' of the last 100 years or so many had no genuine desire to be reunited with the Catholic Church. Those who did invariably were received individually. Many remain Anglican because they enjoy the ethos of Anglicanism with its contradictions and variations. The world of Barbara Pym is unexportable.

    One of the saddest illustrations of this tendency is the recent reception of Fr Michael Shier and twelve members of his flourishing congregation in Vancouver leaving a significant number behind unmoved by his arguments. If a priest of his integrity fails to persuade the people he has built up into a large congregation is unable to persuade his people to enter the Catholic Church it provides proof that they are happy to stay as they are, Ordinariate train or no Ordinariate train. As for trains, the Catholic Church does not provide a railway service. The front door is open to all no matter who they are or where they live or what denomination they come from..

    1. Perhaps this relative failure explains why Mr Shier left the following day for five weeks' holiday in Europe. It must have been a discouraging experience.

      1. Poor Fr Shier, he must be disappointed but if anybody deserves a long European holiday, it's him. I am praying that he will enjoy doing everything for the first time as a Catholic priest and that he might even return to England where he will be welcome.

  6. If I may, as someone whose journey in the TEC led me closer to Rome (including a transformational year at Mount Calvary while in school) and subsequently reception and confirmation into the Church two years ago, a gentle observation is that Anglo Catholicism (and EF advocates) expression is so frequently about being right and then controlling to ensure they do not fall into error. Strikingly, it's a similar experience to the independent Baptist churches of my youth. A verse for me during RCIA was, "For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it." Was I ready to give what I held most dear, the belief that I was right?

  7. Mr. Perkins, what you describe could be applied to the new ACNA prayer book. It is portions from all of those sources. It also puts, in many cases, the Roman option in the primary place. It uses the RSV. Does someone with the ACNA know something we do not? Also, look at the texts for the Gloria, the NO confetior, and other parts of the ordinary. They are using the new NO translations.

  8. "I have no answers anymore; only the life that I've lived. Twice in that life I've been given the choice, once as a boy and once as a man; the boy chose safety, the man chooses suffering….. That's the deal…."

    1. Of course in Shadowlands this is said by a man who is trying to deal with the pain of the present by seeing it as a necessary part of the happiness of the past. This would put quite a different spin on Mrs Gyapong's remarks.

  9. I submitted my application. I wait. I heard nothing. After a year I wrote to the Ordinary. I heard nothing. I attempted Confession to the local Roman parish priest and was rebuffed because I "broke communion with Rome". I remember the Holy Father asked his clergy to be "generous".

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