Interview With A Priest of the Anglican Ordinariate

Who are you?

I am Fr. Glenn Baaten, a priest of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. I am the parish administrator of St. Augustine of Canterbury Catholic Church in the Del Mar area of San Diego. I was ordained as a Catholic priest 2 and a half years ago. Prior to that, I served as an Anglican priest and, prior to that, a former Presbyterian pastor. My entry into the Roman Catholic Church has been a decades long, slow, but sure path into the fullness of the Church.

What is the Personal Ordinariate or the Chair of Saint Peter?

The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter is oftentimes commonly referred to as the “Anglican Ordinariate”. The Ordinariate was created by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 to allow for whole groups of Anglicans and Episcopalians, as well as Anglican priests, to be received into the Catholic Church. As the Anglican Communion continues to slide into a post-modernist and revisionist approach to the Christian faith, orthodox Anglicans have sought refuge in the ageless orthodoxy of the magisterial teachings of Catholicism. The creation of the Ordinariate has canonically created a space for us that is home! Essentially, we are juridically equivalent to a diocese, though we are “extra-territorial”. Our Ordinariate comprises both the US and Canada. The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham serves those in the UK. The Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross serves those in Australia.

Why would a former Anglican/Episcopalian not just join a regular diocese?

Part of the beauty of the creation of our Ordinariate is that we could leave our liturgical tradition in tact as Catholics. We are Catholics who continue to use the traditional Anglican liturgy for the celebration of our Mass. The Vatican made an unprecedented move of making an allowance for us to continue our worship in our Ordinariate parishes in the Anglican form. Anglican converts are welcome to attend any Catholic church for Mass, but why wouldn’t an Anglican who loves their tradition not want to continue worshipping in their beautiful tradition?

What about your liturgy? How is it different?

Our liturgy is a variant of the Roman Rite, not an entirely separate rite, as are our Byzantine brethren, for example. As an Ordinariate priest, I am allowed to use our Divine Worship Missal, as well as the usual ordinary form of the Mass, or the extraordinary form for that matter. Our liturgy falls within the liturgical tradition of the western Church, so it feels fairly close to what most Catholics are familiar with. The major parts of the Mass are all in place, the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, etc. There are, obviously, some fairly major differences, especially our eastern-facing celebration of Mass, inclusion of certain prayers and collects, along with the use of more archaic English.

Why is it different?

The chief architect of our liturgy is Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who accompanied King Henry VIII in the move of the English Church out of communion with Rome, into an independent status as “The Church of England”. The English church embraced many of the theological tenets of the Reformation churches on the continent. Cranmer, for all of his Reformation leanings, was formal and conservative – as those Brits tend to be! – and kept much of the form of the Mass in place. The major form of the Mass in Britain up to the time of the Reformation which known as the Sarum Rite, which Cranmer drew from. He penned many of the collects we use up to this day. That’s why attending a service at an Episcopal or Anglican church feels very Catholic to Catholics.

Why does it feel so antiquated?

The Mass will definitely have an “old world” feel to it on account of our using early modern English for our liturgical language. As I mentioned, the priest celebrate ad orientem. There is a formality and reverence built into the body of the liturgy and the accompanying rubrics. And there is a curious mix of what feels with the Tridentine Mass in archaic English, rather than Latin, that gives our Mass a very distinctive flavor, if you will. Old can be good – very good – when us post-moderns seem to be reinventing ourselves every decade or so. Our Mass bears witness to the changeless worship of the faithful over these last millennia.

Why is tradition such an important value?

Tradition, which appears to be increasingly under deconstruction and attack, is vitally important for the sense of continuity and context which makes us the people we are. This is certainly the case for our western society at large, but obtains also in the life of the church. Go and attend a mega-church service and you will experience a style of worship which is based on an entertain paradigm; stage, band, and the primary entertainer (pastor). This kind of worship has a very short half-life, and more importantly, doesn’t reflect the contours of the Mass as it has always been. We don’t make the Mass, the Mass makes us. Christianity is an historical faith. Our style of worship is an historical style. Our Divine Worship Mass emulates the early church Mass, which itself is built on the major components of Temple and synagogue worship, which reaches thousands of years back.

To close is there anything else you would like people to know?

Yes, please come and experience our form of the Mass! If you have any traditional sentiments, any historical bones in your body, you will enjoy our celebration. If you are unfamiliar with our form, we have both a Mass booklet as well as a pew card which will assist you in following along with us. we, at St. Augustine of Canterbury, welcome you and hope to see you at Mass this next