"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!"