Saturday, May 14, 2011

Extraterrestrial Extraordinariates

I've tried to be very quiet about the Ordinariate, largely because I've never really been part of a parish that was sufficiently Roman to worry about this sort of thing. Lately, it seems to me that there is a lot of misdirection between parties which are very for the Ordinariate and those which are very against the Ordinariate. Some say that the Ordinariates have been "indefinitely put on hold" in America and Canada, others say that talks are still going on and any hiatus, if it exists, is merely temporary. The fact of the matter is that I do not know the full truth and I am beginning to find much of what is reported thoroughly unreliable. I prefer to listen to the judgement of friends who are involved in the processes and aware of what goes on.

In some sense, what is going on in the large will always remain a mystery. Of course we must look for the big picture in order to get a balanced view but in this situation what appears to be the bigger picture is complicated with politics and negotiations and extenuating circumstances and instances of sine qua non and non plus ultra.

The trouble is that this bigger picture is just not big enough. I'm always minded of some of those wonderful tracking shots which ascend rapidly upwards looking back on the Earth. People become houses become streets become towns become regions become counties become countries become continents until that familiar cloud suffused blue sphere of our planet becomes the focus. Sometimes the tracking shot goes further: the moon hoves into view, as do Venus, Mercury, the Sun. Still further the shot tracks, as our planet becomes insignificant against the light of the Sun and the orange-brown bulk of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn and the darker, colder gas giants of Uranus and Neptune, then Pluto. Further and further still into the mysterious Oort Cloud and it prospective comets, long forgotten by mankind. And still we can go on, our Sun becomes part of a group, a cluster, an insignificant yellow dot of not much worth. The spiral arm of the Galaxy appears, then the Galaxy itself as our tracking shot, now travelling at many millions of times the speed of light steps back further and further until the galaxy becomes part if a supercluster of galaxies speeding around into the blackness of the Universe. All becomes simplicity in the eyes of the Divine.

At each change of scale, we see the same picture, something seems chaotic until the reason for the chaos becomes clear. Then as the scale keeps peeling back, more chaos ensues.

As a prime example, at the scale of an Earth dweller, the planets seem to rove erratically across the sky, back and forward, looping the loop. They appear to be true wanderers, their motion not entirely predictable. Once we step back at the Solar System itself, we see that these loop-the-loops are a necessary consequence of the simple behaviour of planets orbiting the Sun.

However, if we step back further, we see that the behaviour of the planets is not clockwork. The equation of motion may be quite easy to state in a Newtonian principle of conservation of energy, but the effects of planets one on another add up. It is possible that we may lose Venus or Mercury in the future due to gravitational tidal effects. We have moved from chaos to simplicity back to chaos again, largely because of our change of viewpoint.

So what does this have to do with the Ordinariate?

I believe that there is a very simple rule behind this and all the other Anglican Difficulties: it is nothing less than Man's search for Authentic Communion with Christ. Catholics believe in the sacrosanctity of the Holy Mass where the Communicant comes into full and intimate contact with the One Who willed that very Communicant's creation. Once one realises what one is saying "Amen" to when receiving the Body of Christ, the more important it becomes that the experience be authentic, that we are in reality participating with every other Christian soul and the Holy Saints with the same Eternal (i.e. timeless) Christ. This is the content of Catholic Tradition. If anything breaks that Tradition, the authenticity is impaired.

As soon as impairment arises, it is here that chaos begins to reign, the turbulence of the sea that the Jews feared most. The Christ-seeking Catholic has no option but to move apart from the impediment and to move faster and further the greater he perceives that impediment to be.

This is what has happened to Anglicanism: it is going supernova over the impediments that are being built into its mainstream. The Catholics are propelled away from this out into a desperate search for the Authentic Christ apart from all modern notions of experience, equality, and "go with the flow".

It isn't where a Catholic is heading that should be the cause for judgement or suspicion, but rather whether that Catholic has taken steps to seek the Authentic Christ beyond the impairments that are being flung into his way and even then this can only be done by One Who truly sees the heart and motives of the individual - the One Who Knows on all scales. I doubt very much that the Catholic knows where he is headed any way, but by holding onto his simple rule can he find some reassurance through his fervent prayers and obedience to the faith that has been handed onto him that he will find his Beloved.

So then, what do I think of the Ordinariate? I cannot speak highly enough of those who have heard God's call to make the leap, to become the pioneers of something entirely new to reconnect with that which is entirely old. They will have my support, prayers, admiration and love that what they are trying to do may indeed work, provide a comfortable home for lost souls and bring all to Christ.

However, I'm afraid I cannot accept the conditions for the Ordinariate. The time is not right for me, even though I am between jurisdictions. I still would say that I am an Anglican Papalist, though I am much more wary of labels than I used to be. Perhaps I am not an Anglican Papalist - I don't know - things change. I still regard the Holy Father as the Head of the Church, the Successor of St Peter and especially, though he might deny it himself, the Patriarch of the West and have every desire to be in communion with him. However, I still regard Apostolicae Curae as being not just wrong but irrelevant. I have good personal reasons for believing in the integrity of Anglican Orders because of what happened to me at my Confirmation. It is this belief that makes me an Anglican Papalist and yet separates me from being in communion with the Holy Father.

But things change. I cannot see the bigger picture and if I could, it would only confuse me. I cannot shoot out faster than the speed of light to see the Divine simplicity. I trust that it's there though. What I do not trust are disjointed and confusing reports that come out of those for whom the Ordinariate is a be-all-and-end-all either as a hobby-horse of hatred as some blogs love to disparage with their "more-knowledgeable than thou" attitude or those who would seek to force everyone to abandon what Catholic aspect of Anglicanism they hold dear in order to get everyone to toe the line.

Ultimately, all Christians have only one direction in which to travel. The Authentic Christ exists and His gravity will draw to His embrace all those who seek Him.

1 comment:

Jakian Thomist said...

Thanks for this post - an exemplary display of thoughtfulness and Christian charity.