If you’re a Catholic, and you speak English as your native language, then you have a special heritage that you may not even be aware of. Traditional English Catholicism, lost in the Protestant world for centuries, has now been restored to the Catholic Church. It is called the “Anglican Patrimony” within the Catholic Church. To be clear, when we say “Anglican Patrimony” we are not talking about Anglicanism. Rather, we are talking about the English spiritual heritage that was originally Catholic, but continued after the English Reformation under Anglicanism for five centuries, before it was reunited with Rome in 1980 under Pope Saint John Paul II’s “Anglican Use Pastoral Provision” and then expanded under Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Constitution entitled Anglicanorum Coetibus (Latin: Groups of Anglicans). Today, this Anglican Patrimony, now fully readopted back into the Catholic Church, is manifested in three personal ordinariates around the world, a fully developed Missal and Office, along with an accompanying spirituality that is deep in English heritage. Any Catholic may be enriched by this, especially English-speaking Catholics, and it was Pope Benedict XVI’s expressed will that the Anglican Patrimony be returned to the Catholic Church as a spiritual gift for all Catholics.
Many of my readers have expressed to me a desire to return to the traditional Catholic spirituality of the Anglican Patrimony. I have provided below everything one needs to accomplish a deeper connection to that heritage, regardless if one is eligible for ordinariate membership or not. To connect, and rediscover this element of traditional English Catholic devotion, I recommend you follow these steps in this order…
- Get a copy of the St. Gregory’s Prayer Book. This prayer book will be the cornerstone for most lay English-speaking Catholics to reconnect with their English Catholic heritage in the Anglican Patrimony. It features hundreds of prayers, in sacred English (thee, thou, thy, etc.), as well as the ordinary (people’s responses) in the Divine Worship mass, with guides to traditional Catholic and particularly English devotions. This is an absolute “must have” in every Catholic’s library. The book is designed to be used every day in regular daily devotion, as well as to be taken to mass, and to confession, and to just about any other Catholic activity. The idea is to use this little prayer book as part of your family’s devotional life, thereby connecting your spouse and children to their rich English Catholic heritage contained in the Anglican Patrimony. This truly is the connecting point for all of us who want to rediscover our spiritual birthright as English-speaking Catholics. Get this prayer book, then if you like, proceed to the next step.
- Connect with the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society. This is a voluntary lay apostolate with members from all three ordinariates, as well as other Catholics and even some people who are not Catholic yet. It provides vital information of interest for Catholics who want to connect to the Anglican Patrimony. This includes free podcasts, featuring interviews from all three ordinaries, as well as other people of interest. Just bookmarking this website, and visiting it occasionally, will connect you to a great deal of information. In addition, if you decide to join with a paid membership subscription, you’ll get access to their “Shared Treasure” journal, which features many fascinating articles for those who want to be “in the know.” If you like this, proceed to the next step.
- Read the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society Blog. For those who want to stay current and up to speed with all things concerning the Anglican Patrimony within the Catholic Church, this blog has it all. It’s the official communication platform of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society. Bookmark it. Subscribe to it. Get the updates. It’s free, don’t you know? You can also join the “Catholics of Anglican Patrimony” groups on Facebook and MeWe. (I personally recommend MeWe for all social networking due to privacy concerns on Facebook.) If you like this, proceed to the next step.
- Start a devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham. This is the Madonna of all English-speaking people. The original shrine is located in England, but a similar one can be found in Houston, Texas. Statues, icons, medals and such: can be found here. These things must be imported from England, which is appropriate when you think about it, but you can sometimes find local sources if you’re willing to shop around. If you like this, proceed to the next step.
- Connect with an ordinariate parish, or consider starting one. This link will connect you to a map that shows where the Anglican Patrimony is practiced in the Catholic Church throughout the world. If you happen to live near an established ordinariate parish, by all means, go visit it and see what it’s like. Any Catholic can visit such a parish, and any Catholic may become a member of such a parish. Did you know that? It’s true. Any Catholic (that means you) can become a member of any ordinariate parish. You don’t need to become a member of the ordinariate to do so. You can remain a member of your local diocese, and also be a member of an ordinariate parish at the same time. This is because ordinariate membership and parish membership are two different things. If however, you don’t live near such a parish, check the map to see if you happen to live near an “Anglican Patrimony group.” These are startup prayer groups, designed to eventually become ordinariate parishes in time, if by providence that is God’s will. These groups usually meet once a month, are often lay run, and the type of liturgy that is used is the “Daily Office,” which is the ordinariate version of the Divine Office or “Liturgy of the Hours.” Once again, any Catholic (that means you) can become a member of any such group. One need not be part of the ordinariate. Finally, if you don’t live near any such parish or group, and you really, really, really love the Anglican Patrimony, and you have the dedication to start your own “Anglican Patrimony group,” you may do so by visiting this page and following the directions. If you like this, consider the next step.
- Join the ordinariate. Any Catholic may join one of the three existing ordinariates if he/she is a convert with an Anglican or Methodist background, OR if he/she has an immediate family member who is already a member of the ordinariate. Joining the ordinariate is the final step for any Catholic, who is eligible, and wants to make their connection to the Anglican Patrimony canonical. It also allows such a canonical connection to be passed down to future generations, and to other family members. In addition, it gives such Catholics the right to request the sacraments and liturgies according to the Anglican Patrimony. So if you ever want to see a Divine Worship Mass or ordinariate parish in your area, you’re going to need ordinariate members to request them. Nobody else can. Joining the ordinariate changes one’s canonical, juridic status. Upon joining the ordinariate, one ceases to remain a member of his/her local diocese, and is juridically transferred to the appropriate ordinariate. Unlike changing rites to one of the Eastern Catholic churches, transfers to the ordinariates are not final. One can leave the ordinariate if one chooses, and juridically transfer back to one’s local diocese. Nevertheless, such transfers should not be taken lightly. One should be sure that he/she truly loves the Anglican Patrimony, and really wants to make this connection canonical. This will also legally change one’s bishop. Upon transferring to an ordinariate, one will cease to be under the pastoral direction of the local diocesan bishop, or archbishop, and be canonically placed under the pastoral direction of the appropriate ordinariate bishop or monsignor. One does not need to be a member of an ordinariate parish, or Anglican Patrimony group, to become a member of an ordinariate. Nor does one need to live near an ordinariate parish, or patrimony group, to become a member of an ordinariate. Lots of ordinariate members live in remote locations, far from any ordinariate parish or patrimony group. Though, if one becomes a member of an ordinariate, he/she should consider connecting with the nearest parish or group in some way (phone, email, etc.), or perhaps (if willing) consider starting one’s own Anglican Patrimony group. To join, one must apply to the appropriate ordinariate based on geographical location. Select the one closest to you…
The Anglican Patrimony is in the Catholic Church to stay. It’s not going anywhere, and it’s for every English-speaking Catholic to enjoy and cherish as part of one’s spiritual heritage, at whatever level one prefers. Perhaps Step 1 (above) will be enough for you. Maybe, you’ll be one of those Catholics who’s intrigued by step 1 and move on to Step 2 and 3. Maybe that will be enough. Or maybe, you’ll be the type who moves on to Step 4 and 5. Not everyone can move on to Step 6, due to canonical limitations, but if you can, give it some prayer and thought. I’ve been a member of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (North America) for four years now. I love it and have no regrets. In fact, I’ve never met an ordinariate member who did have regrets. As they say: “come on in, the water is fine.” However, for those who can’t be part of the ordinariate, that should in no way exclude them from the Anglican Patrimony. On the contrary, Pope Benedict XVI insisted that the Anglican Patrimony was for the whole Catholic Church! This would especially be the case for all English-speaking Catholics. If you can’t be an ordinariate member, no worries. Just consider steps one through five above. They’re all available to you.