March 7, the good old Roman Feast of Ss Perpetua and Felicity. On this day in 2002, Keith Newton was consecrated Bishop of Richborough, Rutupiae, that being one of the harbours which served Canterbury and probably provided the route by which S Augustine of Rome, commissioned by Pope Gregory I 'the Great', entered upon his mission territory. Keith, of course, went on to be, and is, our first Ordinary.
The years before the erection of the Ordinariate were thus, rather charmingly, designed by Providence (and I wonder, by whom else) to call to mind the pure Romanitas of the nascent Anglo-Saxon Church. Augustine planted in England the pure Roman Rite; give or take a few details, the Rite some rather strangely call the Extraordinary Form. This was, of course, the fall-back rite of the dear old Anglo-papalist movement in which the older among us grew up. Dix explained to us "a certain timelessness about the eucharistic action and an independence of its setting, in keeping with the stability in an ever-changing world of the forms of the liturgy themselves. ..." I can make my own Dix's words: "This very morning I did this with a set of texts which has not changed by more than a few syllables since Augustine used those very words at Canterbury on the third Sunday of Easter in the summer after he landed."
S Augustine went on to create at Canterbury a 'little Rome', his Cathedral sharing its dedication with the Lateran Basilica in Rome; the 'Abbey' representing the burial basilicas of the Apostles Peter and Paul; and S Mary's witnessing to the Roman Church of that dedication. The elegant building in Warwick Street, the Ordinariate's Principal Church, reminds us of these things now by its dedication of the S Gregory who sent us the Faith.
We do, of course, have our Ordinariate Missal, which ingeniously marries elements of the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms, and even nods towards the oeuvre of Thomas Cranmer. But hard-wired into our DNA is that old Roman Rite, the rite of the 'Celtic' saints (vide Stowe) as well as of the Monks from the Caelian Hill; the rite of Hope Patten and Fynes Clinton, of Hole and Baverstock and all the rest of them, confessors within the separated Provinces of Canterbury and York of the pure Catholic and Roman Faith.
What is our 'Patrimony'?
Quite simply, the Rome of all Ages; the unchanging Rome of the Authentic Rule. As ever, those nostalgic phrases "Western Rite" and "Full Catholic Privileges" embody our raison d'etre.
What a shame that, back in the C of E, we did let that culture slip away, for a few decades after the Council, when many among us were sadly persuaded that, because some Roman authorities had diluted their sacred inheritance, we should change too.
But I thank God that, at the heart of our Patrimony are that Faith and that Rite which, for more than half a century, came to us between the covers of the Missale Romanum and its mediating handmaid, The English Missal.