16 April 2016

Pontifex magnus sed Magnus non pontifex

A day of great whooppee for all good men and women and true, a day marked for us by the birthday of our Holy Father the Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, the Pope of Unity to whom we in the Ordinariate owe so much; to whom the Whole State of Christ's Church Militant here on Earth owes so much. The erudite Pope who was able to set the problematic decades since Vatican II into a conceptual framework which enabled us to make sense of the Divine purpose during those difficult years; the Pope who made clear that it is theologically impossible for a Catholic Rite to be abolished - and went on to legislate that, whatever any nay-sayer of whatever dignity might wish, any presbyter of the Latin Rite has an inalienable right to celebrate the Mass we associate with the name of his great predecessor, S Pius V. How can any of us tuck into our lunches today without thinking of that gentle old pastor and wise scholar tucking into something Bavarian, in the company, one hopes, of his brother?

This day will always remind me of my unforgettable visit to Papa Stronsay two years ago; a break in my journey enabled my kind hosts to take me to visit the exquisite rose-coloured Romanesque Cathedral at Kirkwall in the Orkneys. At the Reformation, the relics of the martyred Earl Magnus were removed from their shrine but carefully preserved behind a stone in the transept arch; so his presence is still living in his own Church. Because, you see, today is the Feast of S Magnus the Martyr! I think of my dear friends on Papa Stronsay solemnly celebrating the Patronal Festival of the Orkneys in their wind-swept but immaculate chapel.

It doesn't end there. We in the Ordinariate owe our present laetitia in large measure to the work and witness of Fr Henry Joy Fynes Clinton, Rector of S Magnus the Martyr by London Bridge, Founder of the Catholic League, Apostle of Romanita within the Church of England; Confessor of the Faith; another devoted lover and upholder, against whatever Anglican episcopal persecutions, of the liturgy we used to call "the Western Rite". One of those intimately involved in the restoration of the Holy House of the Mother of God at Walsingham, to whom our Ordinariate is dedicated.

So it is surprisingly unsurprising that, upon this day of days, the Particular Calendar of the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham offers us this Nordic Saint to celebrate, enabling us Caecubum depromere in honour of a great Pontiff; to celebrate our fellowship with the Redemptorists on Papa Stronsay whose regularisation, like ours, is the fruit of that great Pontificate of Christian Unity, and who, like us, suffered in their journey into full canonical status; to remember with affection and prayer our own Anglican Fathers in the Faith who did not live to see the the new dawn of Anglicanorum coetibus.

Sancte Magne, quot habes et quales filios tuos et clientes tam vivos quam defunctos pro quibus ut preces effundas deprecamur! Ora pro nobis, ora pro omnibus!

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