The mass according to the Anglican Use of the Roman Rite
THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Today is the Feast of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, in the season of Christmastide. On this first day of this first month, in the year of our Lord 2012, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, creates the United States ordinariate for Anglicans, which has been named the 'Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter' - see official website here. Former Episcopalian Bishop, now a Catholic priest, the Reverend Dr. Jeffrey Steenson, has been nominated for the position of the new Ordinary.
|Fr. Jeffrey Steenson|
This condition of a non-episcopal Ordinary is in all likelihood a temporary one. It is designed to prepare the way for something different later on. Originally, when traditional Anglicans first opened communications with Rome, the idea was to create a whole new rite for Anglicans entering the Catholic Church, however, this proved impossible at this time because of the condition Anglicanism currently finds itself in. In order to have a full-fledged rite, there must be celibate bishops with real apostolic succession, an undisputed patrimony, and no ambiguity on the sacrament of holy orders. Historically, Anglicanism has not possessed these things, in any clear fashion, even though it has demonstrated an certain affinity toward English Catholic liturgy and sacramental life.
So what the pope did was create an incubator called the 'Anglican Ordinariate.' It is similar to the military ordinariate for Roman Catholics. The idea of the Anglican Ordinariate is to create a 'space' (if you will) within the Catholic Church, wherein traditional high-church Anglicans (i.e. Anglo Catholics) can further develop their patrimony with absolute clarity, in an environment where holy orders are no longer in question. The position of Ordinary may be occupied by a married priest for as long as these Anglo Catholics require one. However, it is envisioned in the long run that there will be some celibate men ordained into the Anglo Catholic priesthood eventually. These men will eventually become candidates for the position of Ordinary when the time is right. When that day comes, a celibate bishop will be consecrated as the next ordinary (someday in the future). Once that happens, the ordinariate becomes a 'particular church,' a full-fledged diocese (if you will), and the Anglican patrimony is well on its way to become a full-fledged rite within the Catholic Church, just as soon as all the ordinariates worldwide are similarly prepared.
As for time frame, your guess is as good as mine. Speculatively, one would think one to two generations would be ample. However, that is not a job for this pope or this generation. This pope plants the seeds of a future Anglican Rite. Another pope, someday in the future, will harvest the crop, and actually make it happen. Just as Pope John Paul II cleared the field with the Anglican Use Pastoral Provision some thirty years ago, so this pope (Benedict XVI) is laying the foundation with the Anglican ordinariates. Other popes will help build the structure as Anglo Catholics supply the living materials, and someday the Anglican Rite within the Catholic Church will be completed. Personally, I would think at least thirty to forty years will be required before this happens, perhaps longer, but you never know. The Lord works in mysterious ways.
As for Anglicans entering the Catholic Church, the ONLY thing they need to do is just keep the Anglican Patrimony and be good Catholics. As for a future Anglican Rite, that is a job best left to the Holy Spirit.
In the mean time, the Holy Father has a much broader plan for the Anglican ordinariates. First and foremost, of course, they provide an easy point of entry for Anglicans (Episcopalians) into the Catholic Church. They also provide a similarly easy point of entry for some Lutherans, as well as other traditional protestants. Second, because the ordinariates will have their own traditional English liturgy, and their own rubrics in which that liturgy MUST be celebrated, they provide yet another means through which the Holy Father can further his liturgical "reform of the reform" of the Western Church. Traditional Anglo Catholics are more than eager to help the pope in this regard, as it is primarily their love for liturgy that has driven them to the Catholic Church over the last two centuries. Third and finally, the ordinariate structure, as provided for under the Apostolic Constitution for Anglicans, puts ordinariate members under Roman canon law, and for the time being anyway, considers the Anglican ordinariate patrimony a subdivision of the Roman Rite. This allows clergy and laity to easily cross over between any Roman diocese and the Anglican ordinariate. Thus, any ordinariate priest can fill in as a substitute guest priest in a diocesan parish. The same is true vice versa. Likewise, any Roman Catholic layman can take up membership in an Anglo Catholic parish. The same is true vice versa. This crossover is designed to alleviate some of the strain caused by the priest shortage, and to give traditionally-minded Roman Catholics some more liturgical options, as well as give some ordinariate Anglo Catholics easy access to diocesan life should they prefer it. This allows for some regularisation and normalisation between the ordinariate and local dioceses as things get under way. It also introduces Catholics from both groups to opportunities to help each other out. With these Anglican ordinariates, the Holy Father has done nothing short of helping both Catholics and Anglicans, giving both groups more tools at their disposal to further nourish their spiritual needs during a period of dark times for Western Christianity.
Finally, I would like to offer a word of admonition to both Roman Catholics and Anglicans entering the Church through the ordinariate.
To Roman Catholics I say this. DON'T BE STUPID. The Holy Father has structured these ordinariates in such as way as to help struggling Roman dioceses in their time of need. Make no mistake about it. Dioceses that are accommodating to Anglican ordinariate parishes and groups will be blessed. New vocations may arise from these communities, and those vocations will likely be of service to both the diocese as well as the ordinariate. Anglo-Catholic priests are fully permitted to celebrate the Roman Rite liturgy as well as their own. This means with your local bishop's permission, they can do a regular mass in any diocesan parish, and you can be sure they will celebrate the Roman liturgy with the highest level of respect and honour given to your traditional customs. That can only serve to strengthen your local parish's Roman Catholic identity. This is a win-win situation for Roman dioceses. Don't pass the opportunity up when it arises. Embrace the Anglican ordinariate, in the true spirit of Vatican II (a spirit of continuity not rupture), and your diocese will be blessed because of it.
To all those entering the Church through the ordinariate, most especially to Anglicans for whom these ordinariates are being created, I would like to admonish you to fully embrace the Catholic faith as well as the Anglican Patrimony. Most especially, nurture the Anglican Patrimony, which is primarily liturgical of course, but can also include personal and family customs that are unique to Anglican history and English culture. The Holy Father has made it ABSOLUTELY CLEAR that he EXPECTS us to build something new and unique in the universal Church. He does not want us to be absorbed into the Roman Rite as a community. Granted, if individuals (or families) want to be absorbed into the general Roman Rite, than that is fine, and that is their choice. As an Anglo Catholic community however, those of us who choose to remain part of that, should endeavour to be unique and distinct, keeping with our Anglican Patrimony and forging ahead in Traditional development. Remember, it was our most conservative Anglican traditions that brought us INTO the Catholic Church, and it is those same conservative Anglican traditions that will help us move forward WITHIN the Catholic Church. As for today however, let us celebrate and give thanks to the Lord. Today history is made. Today marks a new beginning not only for Anglicans (Episcopalians) in the United States, but also for Roman Catholics as well, as we will both mutually benefit from this ordinariate arrangement.