... since the erection of the Ordinariates. It seems so much longer, because it feels as if this is where we have always been. As, in a sense, we have.
Praise be to God for all the graces which, from 1559 onwards, ultimately led to the Ordinariates. And for the graces which have followed. And God Bless good Pope Benedict. May God reward him for the courageous pontificate which did so much to redirect the Latin Church. How unfortunate it is that some 'traditionalist' voices are now finding it convenient to try to rubbish him. They should have a greater sense of decency.
I did not go to Westminster Cathedral to witness the events of January 15, 2011, because it somehow seemed more real to go that day to the Oxford Oratory and to witness the Reception into Full Communion of a distinguished and entertaining former Head Server of Pusey House. Those were the days when Pusey Chapel was the antechamber to the Catholic Church for so very many of Oxford's brightest and best. (Incidentally, I have derived great pleasure from the recent news of the Reception of another member of my old congregation at the ecclesia Sancti Thomae Martyris iuxta ferriviam, in one of England's Oratories. What a gift the Oratorian communities are to God's Church. Nod nod ... wink wink ... if you approach an Oratorian priest about reception into full communion, he may not put you into a queue labelled RCIA with the date 'Next Easter', but instead may tutor you individually and receive you when you both consider it's the right time. I think a lot of Ordinariate clergy do the same.)
But I did go into London a few days before 15 January 2011 for a surreal event: the ordination of our three bishops to the diaconate! Men who, for years, had worn dalmatics under their chasubles when celebrating a solemn pontifical High Mass .... for example, at their half-dozen annual Chrism Masses ... were now being solemnly clothed in the vestment! Surreal indeed ... it seemed like a joke. (The ceremony happened in the chapel of Allen Hall, formerly part of a Perpetual Adoration Convent. It was in that Chapel that the future Dom Gregory Dix went to pray before being received; and it was there and then that he believed himself called, instead, to remain unreceived and in the C of E, and to work for Reunion from that end of the broken bridge. No such ideas, presumably, disturbed the thoughts of our three Right Reverend candidates for the diaconate! Water .... Bridges ....)
Surreal, too, in that a homily was preached by a venerable cleric who repeated all the erroneous ideas about the nature of the diaconate which I had hoped had disappeared with the 1970s. I sat there bemused.
I hope it is not irreverent to surmise that my amused reactions may have been at least understood by Providence. Because ... I presume incense was not normally used in that chapel ... the, er, fire alarm kept going off. And ... you will have guessed ... not least during the Consecrations. It must have been a nightmare for Bishop Alan Hopes, who was celebrating the Mass. And who also deserves our gratitude for the ever-kindly help he so generously gave us.