Last Sunday, we had a visit from two young men who had attended publicly-funded Catholic schools. The one I spoke to at length said the effect of that education left him an atheist. But his interest in an ancient sport prompted him to do some reading and he discovered how many knights of old were deeply Christian. His reading and searching led him to discover the Traditional Latin Mass, and he is now a member of our local Priestly Society of St. Peter (FSSP) parish in Ottawa and very happy there.
He and his friend, however, had decided to visit other churches in the area and since someone had left a little leaflet in their apartment building about our Christmas season liturgies, they visited us and stayed for our Epiphany Dinner that followed our Mass and the Baptism of our youngest member, little Phoebe.
They were pleasantly surprised by our Mass and what a delight it was for us to meet these delightful young men who are eagerly growing in the Catholic faith, and who rediscovered it through traditional liturgy.
We also have some regular visitors who participate in our parish life but are active members of other parishes in Ottawa. We welcome them. They are our friends, part of our community and they support us.
In recent days, however, I have had some conversations with some people involved in Ordinariate life about those who tacitly support the Ordinariates, or the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society but tacit support is as far as it goes.
I received the following in an email:
I know there are lots of folks out there who think that the Ordinariate is wonderful. They are supportive of what we do, and they are supportive of Ordinariate priests.
Where an Ordinariate priest is on loan to a Diocese, they are very grateful to have his ministry within the Diocese.
They are ‘theoretical supporters’ but they don’t come to the Ordinariate.
Some of them have very good reasons for not doing so. But this seems to be an ongoing theme with what we might loosely call ‘traditionalists’
They will go from event to event, but won’t commit themselves to anything in particular.
They will talk about how terrible the state of the Church is, but not stay in the one place long enough to ever make a difference.
Or even worse, they will run off to the SSPX [The Society of St. Pius X]. The Church cannot be rebuilt from the outside, it can only happen from the inside.
We have been given a tremendous opportunity to build something truly amazing, but it cannot be done with theoretical support, it needs practical support.
I am not categorizing the young men who visited us in this uncommitted camp—-they seem to be positive and committed, not angry at the state of the Catholic Church and likely to run off to the SSPX, which unlike the FSSP, is in an irregular state of communion with the Pope.
I personally have nothing against the SSPX, but I agree with my correspondent that “The Church cannot be rebuilt from the outside. It can only happen from the inside.” Thus, I would encourage people to work on renewal from within, starting with their own personal renewal and holiness.
Before we came into the Catholic Church, I knew a number of former Anglicans who had already converted to the Catholic faith. I had counted them among those I expected would join us. I had underestimated the reasons why a family once anchored in life in a Roman Catholic parish might decide for the sake of better programs for children or for young adults or for new bonds of friendship to stay where they were. Thus, we did not get the sudden influx I had hoped for. These are the people who are our supporters but who my correspondent might describe as those who have “very good reasons” not to join us.
In the vein of practical rather than theoretical support, I was speaking with someone else who mentioned how many people who attend an Ordinariate parish expect the bulletin to magically appear each week, or the coffee pots to turn themselves on and the table to sprout a sumptuous breakfast. I have to confess I’m a little guilty when it comes to the magnificent decorations we have at Thanksgiving, and at Christmas, and other times of the year. Somehow they manifest supernaturally, as do the clean linens for the altar and so on.
Perhaps all of us can think of how we can move towards greater commitment and tangible, practical support for our Ordinariate communities and priests in small ways this year.