At the beginning of Lent around 500 people were present at Southwark Cathedral for their Rite of Election. Among these 500 are Catechumens – those who have come from unbelief and are to be baptised at Easter – and Candidates who have already been baptised and are now to receive Confirmation and the Eucharist. And there will be those entering into full Communion with the Catholic Church – those whose faith journey has brought them from committed life in other Christian communities, now to continue within the fullness of belief and sacramental life in the Catholic Church.
During this past week I have heard three experiences of the journey of faith which relate to the Ordinariate. The first from a young man who became a Catholic in his teens, some ten years ago. Although not a member of the Ordinariate, he felt that its formation by Pope Benedict had encouraged him to give thanks for his Anglican past, and not to hide it.
My next conversation was with someone trying to help a young friend decide whether to enter the Catholic Church. She felt that the Ordinariate could help her with a sense of continuity in her journey: that this great step of faith did not cut her off from all that God had done for her in the past.
And finally a reflection from a priest, grateful that the Catholic Church has taken an important step with the Ordinariate in recognising God’s grace in the Christian pilgrimage. But sadly he was reminded of his meeting with a woman who had joined another Christian denomination. She was now talking of her recent ‘conversion’ and ‘meeting with the Lord’ – yet this priest had prepared her for Confirmation and Confession some years before. Such language seems to imply that what went before is of little worth, even bogus.
With Dag Hammarskjöld we shall surely want to say: “For all that has been, thanks. For all that is to come,