The Queen’s 2018 Christmas Message: An Ordinariate Catholic’s Analysis

The following represents my own views and not those of the Society as a whole.

As John and I have pointed out in This Week in English Catholic History #2the current royal family are the descendants of the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots, who died at Elizabeth I’s bidding, on a charge of treason, though she was not a subject of England, and of the Catholic monarchs of England who preceded her.

Yet the royal family remains out of communion with the Catholic Church.

So there may be those who ask whether it is a Patrimonial practice for members of the Ordinariate to listen to the Queen’s Christmas speech.

Nevertheless the Queen and her family represent a Traditional link to the past, and through God’s divine providence, what many see as the appalling conduct of Henry VIII and his successors made possible a certain culture of Anglican spirituality which, though corporately out of communion with Rome until now, has its own unique treasures to share with Catholicism and the World.

And so I make it my own habit, as I think should all members of the Ordinariate, to listen to the Queen’s address to the commonwealth, for indeed, our spiritual heritage is part of the common wealth which the United Kingdom has bestowed upon our World:

Of course, the Queen’s message is carefully planned and designed to address the current events of the day, giving us a unique look into the mind of the Queen and those who assist her in preparing her message. While the rest of her presentation was – to my own mind – an uncontroversial chronicle of the year for the Queen’s family until her (laudable) concluding mention of the Christ child and His significance for the world, I find this statement uttered by Her Majesty at 3:36 particularly interesting:

“Some cultures believe a long life brings wisdom. I’d like to think so. Perhaps part of that wisdom is to recognize some of life’s baffling paradoxes, such as the way human beings have a huge propensity for good and yet a capacity for evil. Even the power of Faith, which frequently inspires great generosity and self-sacrifice can fall victim to tribalism. But through the many changes I have seen over the years, Faith, Family and Friendship have been not only a constant for me, but a source of personal comfort and reassurance.”

Her Majesty states the paradox optimistically. A dispassionate look at history shows humanity has a propensity for evil, that is an overall tendency to do what is morally wrong, although man retains a capacity for good, when he manages to follow with effort the aboriginal Christ that is the conscience. This is due to the sin of Adam and Eve, which destroyed the sanctifying grace in their souls God placed there allowing them to govern their passions without effort, which we have also lost – or as we call the problem in Western Christianity, Original Sin and even for the baptised, Concupiscence. And this disordered sinful tendency must cause us to adopt a humble attitude toward our own abilities and limitations, as we must always return to the Cross for mercy and for Grace to cover us where we fall short of the ideal.

Regarding the Queen’s comment on tribalism, more and more, the political divisions that define our times seem not to be between socially liberal and conservative, irreligious and religious parties, but rather between globalist and nationalist parties. I suspect that the Queen’s rebuke against “tribalism” may be a gentle warning – even as her country breaks itself out of the European Union in order to pursue its own destiny, and Donald Trump forces a shut-down of the American Federal Government over the funding of a border wall with our Southern neighbour – against blindly clinging to one’s group identity.

I agree that one should never blindly cling to an identity, but in the Ordinariates of Anglicanorum cœtibus, we voluntarily embrace the unique identity imparted to us by our Anglican forebears, who themselves protected and fostered a genuinely Christian culture of beauty, hospitality and English tradition. Today, we recognise the necessity of the Apostolic See as a lighthouse of authority against the rocks of heresy. The Twentieth Century has revealed that we need Her for us to have any hope of protecting what makes us who we are, having seen the ravages of an anti-Christian culture upon the Anglican and Methodist communions.

One of the things I (think I) have noticed while splitting time between my Ordinariate Catholic parish in Orlando and the Byzantine (Ruthenian) Catholic parish here in Ormond Beach is that a strong cultural identity tends to be correlated with a more vibrant and welcoming community life, whereas typical large Catholic parishes in the United States tend to lack this close-knit community feel, “where everybody knows your name.”

Tribalism is abhorrent to our sensibilities in the Twenty-First Century West insofar as it is exclusive, but the power of the tribe is its ability to lift up the soul and make one feel he is part of something greater than himself, something unique and beautiful that is not mass-produced and disposable, but “a treasure to be shared” with the larger world.

Like the Queen’s own comments on her Faith, I am hopeful that the Ordinariate will continue into 2019 strengthening the bonds of Family and Friendship with one another and with God.

Written by Dr. Foster Lerner of Incarnation Catholic Church in Orlando, Florida; a parish of The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter © 2018.

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Foster holds a Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine from  Nova Southeastern University Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine, and is currently pursuing post-graduate studies in medicine.

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