One of the great things about a sabbatical is that one is much freer just to drop things and run. So it was that I was able to be present today at the reception in the Church of those brave folk who have begun the movement towards the Ordinariate.
The whole thing was very low-key, really. I turned up early, and was saying a prayer at Our Lady of Pew when I was joined by a man in a purple tie. He asked for assistance in a small matter, and I recognized John Broadhurst (hard to know how to title him right now). We chatted for a minute, and he parted with the line 'Nellie the elephant has packed her trunk and is getting out of the circus!'. He seemed in very cheerful humour.
I crossed over to the Blessed Sacrament chapel and was met by two anxious-looking journos who also wanted help. They were deceived by my clerical collar into thinking I was on the local team. 'We're from the Telegraph, and are here for the Ordination at 12.30'. Well, the Telegraph'd obviously sent the A team, I thought, if they hadn't even realized what they were coming to!
I got a nice seat at one side, and was pleased to be joined by Sir Dan of the Nesbitry (what on earth do people who weren't at John Fisher School make of that title?) whom I have known since I was nine. I also spied Jeffery Steel of De Cura Animarum in the congregation.
There was a little rehearsal beforehand, and Mass duly began. There was absolutely no reference whatever to the elephant in the room (the reception of these notables) from Bishop Hopes or anyone else. It was simply a Mass for the feast of the Mother of God; a little note in the menu simply observed that there would be a reception in the middle. Finally, once he had preached, Bishop Hopes said a word about what was happening.
The reception was very low-key. The journalists turned out to be photographers, and put their heads over the screen behind the choir stalls, setting the volume of their shutter clicks to Maximum and Extremely Distracting. Only the three active flying bishops were received, all modestly and humbly in ties, together with some members of some of their families, plus the three sisters from Walsingham. I was surprised to see that even John Broadhurst, baptized a Catholic, was received along with the rest. They were then confirmed—some in accord with tradition took confirmation names; one of the former bishops took Benedict, another Joseph, others used their baptismal names—and they returned to their places to gentle applause. One of the sisters, descending the steps grinned at the congregation and gave two thumbs up.
They were then introduced to a great Catholic tradition; the collection. With masterly tact, a large African woman in a great pink headdress descended on the poor sisters (who if Dame Rumour speak true* had been turned out into the snow in their shifts) and menaced them with a collection bag. A fellow brigand went to mug the former bishops.
We all received communion, (five of our new brethren, including all three former bishops, on the tongue) and, lo, it was done. We are in communion.
The Ordinariate is launched very quietly and gently, slipping almost unnoticed into the water.
Dat Deus incrementum.
* perhaps she don't. I've heard both versions.