Charism of the Ordinariate

Some of the elements of the charism of the Ordinariate are:


  • Call to community faith and devotion

  • Evangelical charity

  • Sacral English

  • Reverence and beauty in Worship

  • Music and Congregational hymn singing

  • Gospel preaching

  • English theological tradition


Call to community faith and devotion


In the English tradition, faith and devotion are not seen just as individual pursuits, but are practised at the level of the community. One example is study groups that serve to develop faith. The communal practise of the offices of Matins and Evensong is a hallmark of English devotional practise.


Evangelical Charity


We commit ourselves to helping those who need help through various outreach activities. We draw our inspiration from those such as the great Anglo-Catholic slum priests, who built their churches where no-one else would go because of the terrible poverty present.


Sacral English


The Book of Common Prayer as written by Thomas Cranmer remains a literary masterpiece. It developed a beautiful poetic way of conversing with God in the vernacular at a time when the western Church spoke only Latin. Yet Cranmer’s English was never vulgar or banal.


We continue this tradition in the Ordinariate in the language we use in our liturgies. Since the liturgy is an encounter with God, the language we use should be appropriate to this encounter. We know from our own personal experience that we speak differently for different situations. The way we speak to our friends at a BBQ is different to how we would speak if we were giving a speech at a wedding. Put simply – when we speak to God we do not use day-to-day language, we use sacred language.


For this reason, the liturgies which have been approved for use in the Ordinariate are informed by the language of the Book of Common Prayer, either drawing directly from it, or using language in the style of it. We do this not for the sake of being old-fashioned, but as a reminder of the divine encounter we experience in the liturgy.


Reverence and beauty in Worship


Further to this idea is the way we celebrate the liturgy. We appreciate reverence and beauty as devices that draw us to the divine. Our worship here on earth is such that we too may be caught up in the heavenly worship.


We pay attention to our posture, to our manner of speaking, to the way that we carry out the actions – never in a stuffy way – but in a dignified manner. Likewise we bring beauty to our worship, by the way our churches are decorated, by the vestments the priest wears, to the worship items we use – never to the point of ostentatiousness or flamboyance – but elegant noble dignity which reminds us of the purpose of the liturgy.


Music and Congregational hymn singing


Music and hymn singing are integral to the English tradition. The English tradition considers music and singing to be an act of worship in its own right. This differs from the Roman tradition, which sees music as an accompaniment to the liturgical action. In the English tradition, while the liturgical action remains equally important, we also offer glory to God by music and singing.


Indeed, much of the great liturgical music of the western tradition has come from English composers.


Gospel Preaching


Ordinariate priests are already gaining a reputation in the Catholic Church as preachers.


We believe that the homily should draw the congregation into the Scripture readings of the day, show them an aspect of what God is saying through those readings, and challenge and empower them to apply that in their own lives.


We do not believe in patronising or “warm and fuzzy” two minute homilies.


Priests have a divine calling to feed the flock of Christ, and this means in preaching as well as in the sacraments. For most Catholics today, the only time they will hear anything of the teaching of the Church is in the homily. This is a grave responsibility placed on the clergy of the Church.


English Theological Tradition


The English theological tradition is that which began with the Celts and was heavily influenced by others such as Augustine of Canterbury, the English Mystics, (eg, Julian of Norwich), the Caroline Divines and the Oxford Movement Fathers, especially Saint John Henry Newman.


The English tradition has had a tremendous influence on the Catholic Church, yet it has done so without any vehicle within the Catholic Church to foster its growth and development. With the advent of the Ordinariates, there now exists a home within the Church for the English tradition.